Alonso progressed to Q3 for the second race in a row as he secured ninth place on the grid for the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard, which marks Alpine’s home race.

While Alpine has enjoyed some strong qualifying results so far this year, it has often struggled for pace in the races, aside from Portugal, where Alonso stormed through to eighth, and Baku, where the Spaniard gained late places amid a chaotic race to take P6.

The Anglo-French squad has been left stumped by the performance drop off from Saturday to Sunday but Alonso suggested that progress has been made in understanding why it has been less competitive in the races.

“In free practice we already saw on a few occasions we seem to perform a little bit higher than what we actually are in qualifying and the race, so I will not see free practice as a representative picture of it,” he said.

“Big points is going to be a challenge, we have very competitive people around us – the two McLarens, the two Ferraris and Gasly, and obviously the people starting from P11 with a free choice of tyres. So we have to be realistic. Optimistic, yes, but realistic as well about chances to score big points. I think there’s going to be a few points available but in a normal race not so many.

“We do have some theories,” he added. “We obviously investigated after every race what is happening sometimes but it is not a clear trend. We had good performance for example in Portimao in the race. We had less degradation than the others and we had very good speed and we were overtaking people in the last couple of laps like crazy.

“So it is nothing that tells us one way or the other, every weekend it seems to change. So it’s a little bit unknown for tomorrow. But on Friday the long run pace looked OK so let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”

Esteban Ocon - who missed out on joining his teammate in Q3 by just 0.121s behind McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo - remains hopeful he can make up ground to score points at his home event to celebrate signing a new three-year contract with Alpine.

“Obviously we are investigating why the pace is worse on Sunday than it is in qualifying,” Ocon said. “Only time will tell if we’ve found the issue.

“If we come back tomorrow and have good race pace then I think we’ll know what it is obviously. If we are still struggling a bit then it will need further review but we are on it and we have a few areas we can focus on.

“The important thing for us is to get back into the points. I disagree with having AlphaTauri struggling with race pace, they were pretty fast on race pace as well. It’s going to be a tight fight – as it is usually – but we are in there in the mix to be fighting with them.

"There can still be a lot of things happening like we saw in qualifying. Hopefully we can take advantage of that and score some good points, seventh and eighth would be ideal so let’s see if we can get that.”