Fernando Alonso believes this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix could reveal whether Ferrari will be competitive enough to sustain its World Championship challenge for the rest of the 2012 Formula 1 season.
Alonso currently holds a three-point lead over Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber in the standings despite Ferrari having started the season a long way off the pace following a troubled winter build-up. The Spaniard won the wet Malaysian GP, and also took podium finishes in Spain and Monaco.
Ferrari has admitted that traction and top speed were among its early weak points, and as both are essential for Montreal pace, Alonso thinks this weekend will reveal whether the F2012 has improved sufficiently.
"I think we have improved the car in these areas since the beginning of the season and Canada will be a good test in this respect," he said. "Hopefully, this weekend we will see a competitive Ferrari and that will be very important for us, not just for this race but also for the rest of the season."
Alonso said his current expectation was that Ferrari would be encouraged by its Montreal form.
"It's hard to say in advance, as this season has been so unpredictable with ups and downs for everyone over the course of six races," he said. "However, I don't see any reason why Ferrari should not be competitive in Canada, fighting for the top places come the end of the race."
The two-time World Champion added that he was not letting his current points lead deceive him, as he still believes Ferrari has ground to make up on-track.
"Leading the championship is only the beginning, it's a starting point, because the ultimate target is leading the championship after the final race in Brazil in November," said Alonso. "It's a long championship and the first six races brought us enough points to be in the lead, but we are well aware that we have to improve.
"We need to make the car faster, working hard, while making no mistakes and finding consistency – which is not the easiest thing to do in this championship."