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Fernando Alonso is bracing himself for a tough race in Bahrain this weekend and admits there will be no quick fix for Ferrari's lack of pace this season.

Alonso finished fourth at the opening two races of the season, but Ferrari has not looked capable of competing for podiums and is lacking straight-line speed compared to the Mercedes-powered cars. He is confident his team can make the necessary progress to catch up later in the season, but does not think it will be possible in time for this weekend's race.

"For Bahrain, I don't think the picture will change that much from here [in Malaysia]," he said. "It's only five days [between] so there will not be any magical change in any of the teams.

"The track characteristics are a little bit different, so if we're slow on the straights probably we will see a weakness and cars that have a good top speed will be competitive in Bahrain, like Williams at the [pre-season] test with Massa and Bottas.

"It's going to be tough again, but somehow we manage to be in the top five and at the moment with the performance we have we have scored some good points. We must continue to finish the race."

Alonso said Ferrari is starting to realise what it needs to do to be competitive this year.

"It's not the ideal position to start the championship, we would have liked to win the first two races. The team is doing a massive effort to catch up and improve the situation. Personally I would like to fight for victories, but as long as you are in front of your team-mate you are doing something extra that the people expect.

"We will improve, that's for sure. We have only done two races, we are analysing and we are going deep into the analysis of the areas we need to improve. It seems very clear to us."

Laurence Edmondson is deputy editor of ESPNF1

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Laurence Edmondson is deputy editor of ESPNF1 Laurence Edmondson grew up on a Sunday afternoon diet of Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell and first stepped in the paddock as a Bridgestone competition finalist in 2005. He worked for ITV-F1 after graduating from university and has been ESPNF1's deputy editor since 2010