Fernando Alonso admits he has been surprised by Renault's poor start to the season following a promising winter of testing.
The French squad finished the 2008 in strong fashion, with the Spaniard scoring two victories, and the team was hoping to carry the momentum into 2009. However, after the first four races, Alonso has scored just five points and Renault is 45 behind championship leader Brawn.
The two-time World Champion says he was expecting a much stronger start.
"I think when we finished winter testing in Jerez we were quite optimistic and all winter we have been more or less competitive," said Alonso ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix. "We knew in terms of pace and lap time what the others were doing and we were very comfortable with our pace and balance, it was good.
"We had no big problems, so we arrived in Australia convinced we were ready to fight for podiums and it was not the case.
"So it was some kind of surprise how competitive some of the teams were in Australia, because Brawn we knew they were quick in the last two tests and Red Bull we felt they were behind us, so we started improving the car from Australia. We improved car in China and new parts in Bahrain and here, so we try and catch up. But we were expecting more from the first four races and five points are not enough for the championship battle."
Alonso concedes things are unlikely to change much for him this weekend, with Renault not introducing any major updates like some of its rivals.
"I think not much, unfortunately," he said. "We will improve the car from the last race but it is difficult to simulate what will be the advantage – it will be one tenth, two, who knows.
"But this particular race everyone will introduce new parts around the car...I think we will all move two or three tenths forward and the positions will remain more or less the same."