Fernando Alonso on Thursday ruled out thoughts of claiming another podium finish for Ferrari in this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix.
The team, however, was building up a 'slow recovery' after a mediocre start to the season and could recover the speed to join the championship scrap, the Spaniard said.
Just a few hours after hearing that the pace-setting Mercedes team believed that Ferrari were their main rivals, Alonso said he had no expectation of delivering another top-three finish, as in China last month.
"We will do our best," said the two-time world champion who won his and Ferrari's last race a year ago in front of his fellow-Spaniards.
"We know it will be a tough weekend, and you never know.
"It is sport, anything can happen, but today sitting here if I tell you I will fight for the podium, probably I will lie to you and I don't want to do so for all the people that are coming.
"We cannot start the weekend thinking to be on the podium or thinking to win the race. That will be creating wrong and false targets to everyone that will come here.
"We finished ninth and 10th in Bahrain and we did a podium in China because we put some things together that Sunday. So, it is not that we are in a position now that we will fight for the podium here."
Looking ahead, he stressed that he believed it was possible to catch Mercedes before they were beyond reach in the title race.
"We must do anything we can to close that gap and become competitive," he said. "That will not happen between one race and the next one.
"It will be a slow recovery and hopefully not too late when we become competitive in terms of points to fight for the championship. So let's do it race by race.
"China was a combination of things, and good luck to get that podium. Here in Barcelona is a good point to check how competitive we are, a circuit with different characteristics again and a circuit that will give us an answer or some of the parameters where we need to find some answers.
"Then there is Monaco, Canada, completely different circuits. We are in a moment of the championship and we need to ask many, many things in terms of how competitive we can be."