Fernando Alonso says championship leader Sebastian Vettel is currently out of reach, given his current form.
Red Bull driver Vettel has enjoyed a perfect start to the season, with two poles and two wins in as many races so far. Alonso managed a fourth place in the Australian Grand Prix and a sixth in Malaysia last weekend. The Spaniard admitted he was upbeat about the pace of his Ferrari in race trim in Sepang, but he conceded that Vettel currently cannot be caught.
"As we had already seen in Australia, once again in Malaysia, our race pace was much better than that in qualifying," said Alonso. "In Sepang, both Felipe and I were running at a pace good enough to get to the podium and that was an important indication, even if we did not end up getting all we could have.
"Clearly, I would like to always be fighting for the win but, at the moment, one car, Vettel's Red Bull, seems to be out of reach."
Alonso, who reckoned he should have finished in second place in Malaysia, said he wanted to move on from the Sepang event, although he admitted finishing on the podium would have been good for the morale of the team following a difficult start to the year.
"I was disappointed not to get to the podium in Malaysia, as it was within my reach and it would have been a great result. It would also have been useful in terms of being a nice morale booster," he said. "Unfortunately, things did not work out the way we wanted and we paid a very heavy price for the failure on the system that runs the movable rear wing.
"I know that the engineers, with whom I've been in touch a lot over these past days, have discovered the problem and fixed it. If the system had worked, I could comfortably have gotten past [Lewis] Hamilton on the pit straight and I would not have found myself having to fight him wheel to wheel and taking risks.
"What happened is part of racing and you have to accept it: I was quicker than him and so I had to try and pass, otherwise I would have been caught by those behind us. As for the penalty I was given, I already said on Sunday night in Sepang, I don't want to talk about it because it changes nothing."
Ferrari will have a few aero updates in Shanghai this weekend, including a new front wing, but Alonso suggested he is still keeping his expectations in check.
"Our aim in this grand prix will be similar to the one in Malaysia, which means to make the best of qualifying and try to exploit any opportunity that comes our way during the race," he said.