(CNN) -- Fernando Alonso has urged Ferrari to improve ahead of the 2013 Formula One season, labeling the Italian team's performance in last year's championship unbefitting of the sport's most successful constructor.
Last season two-time world champion Alonso finished just three points behind eventual title winner Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull, but the Spaniard insists Ferrari must do more if the team is to challenge for the drivers' title.
"At the end of the year we were quite far from Red Bull and McLaren," the 31-year-old Spaniard told Formula One's official website after his first run out in the team's new F138 car at a preseason testing event in Barcelona.
"We've been in a group with Force India, behind Lotus and Sauber. We cannot belong to this group -- we know that. We need to be in the group of the leaders and for this we need to do a good job this winter."
Last season Alonso earned many plaudits for taking a Ferrari car -- widely considered to be uncompetitive -- to the brink of a first drivers' title for the team since Kimi Raikkonen's in 2007.
Red Bull dominance
The Spanish driver draws encouragement from last year's exploits and he is confident of once again rivaling triple world champion Vettel -- if Ferrari can improve on their slow start to 2012.
"At the first four races we had finishes of ninth in China and seventh in Bahrain, so even with all those problems with the car we were fighting for the world championship," continued Alonso.
"If we overcome our bad start of 2012 -- and think positive -- there is no reason for us not to fight for the championship again this year if we only improve the car a bit."
The 2013 season gets underway with the Australian Grand Prix on March 17 and Alonso has urged Ferrari to arrive at the Melbourne race ready to challenge the dominance of Red Bull, who have now won the drivers' and constructors' titles for three consecutive years.
"We need to improve from where we were last year because obviously it was not enough -- we finished second and we want to finish first," added the former McLaren driver.
"So our immediate goal to improve in the first half of the year shouldn't be that difficult. We are relatively confident."