The two-time world champion returned to F1 with Alpine this season after two years away and extended his deal with the team into 2022, when the sport’s rules revolution kicks in.

Alonso made a slow start to his comeback but has finished inside the points six times in the last seven races, including his best result so far of fourth place in Hungary, where his excellent defence against Lewis Hamilton played a vital role in helping teammate Esteban Ocon seal a shock victory.

A major factor behind the 40-year-old’s return to the F1 grid was the forthcoming regulation overhaul that is hoped will help level the playing field and increase competition between the teams.

“Well hopefully next year we have a package that we can fight for competitive positions, a step better than this year, that’s the target,” said Alonso.

“We had some expectations this year after the podiums of Renault last year that we could fight for three or four podiums in the season, and we didn’t find that probably.

“I think Ferrari did improve a lot, AlphaTauri did improve, McLaren did a step forward with Mercedes engine.

“So, we find ourselves between eighth and 12th, and we want to improve this next year, that will be the target, that will encourage me probably to continue after that.”

Kimi Raikkonen’s retirement at the end of the season will see Alonso take over as the oldest driver in the field next year, but the two-time world champion believes he is close to operating at the top of his game following a period of adaption.

“On my side, I need to keep improving,” he added. “As I said many times, I’m not 100 per cent probably yet, and days like [qualifying in Belgium] shows me I need to improve in some areas.

“Next year, if I see some progress from myself and I keep improving and keep enjoying, why not keep racing?

“If I see I’m not up to speed or not doing a good job I will be the first one to raise my hand and say maybe a new face will be better for the team, but I hope not.

“I hope I can raise the hand and say I’m ready for the challenge in 2023.”

Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi acknowledged his side owes Alonso “a car that will match his talent” and reckons the Spaniard will continue to race until he "is not fit for F1”.

“We need to give him a better car, so this yields better results,” Rossi said. 

“The results we have are not where we want to be four years from now and I’m sure not where he wants to be in a year from now. It’s just a step on the way.

“We discuss that, him and I, quite a bit and the idea is to stay together as long as we are performing together and we’ll play it by ear. Before the end of next year we’ll decide what we do together but the goal is to carry on as much as we can.

“As long as Fernando is going to be operating at the level he is he should be an Alpine driver. If he is not fit for F1 he will leave F1 altogether and we owe him a car that will match his talent.

“That’s the deal we have together.”