Fernando Alonso is still convinced he can start the European season in a stronger championship situation than last season, despite the blow of his early retirement in Malaysia.
Last year a shock win in a still-troubled Ferrari in the Sepang rain was key to keeping Alonso in the hunt early on. Those 25 points mitigated the damage from Ferrari's very uncompetitive form in the next two races in China and Bahrain.
But Alonso believes this year he has the potential to take podiums at Shanghai and Sakhir, so can be optimistic of arriving at his home race at Barcelona with more than the 43 points he had at that stage in 2012.
"If we have a weekend with normal conditions, let's hope we have a good qualifying and pick up good points," Alonso said. "The goal is to get more than last year. In China and Bahrain we were ninth and seventh last year, so this year is relatively easy to improve on that, and if we arrive in Europe with three podiums it will be good for our morale."
He did not think Red Bull's Malaysia one-two should dampen Ferrari's enthusiasm, as he is far from daunted by the champion team's actual performance level at present.
"I don't think Red Bull was too impressive," said Alonso. "In Australia they dominated all sessions and had a pretty spectacular pace, [in Malaysia] we knew they had problems with degradation and in fact Mercedes was fighting with them until the end. So I think we could have been on the podium.
"The first two races have been very unstable and we don't really know the positions of the cars yet. We haven't seen anyone's potential yet in qualifying and we don't really knew where we are."