Fernando Alonso’s last pole position was eleven years ago. Last time on the front row is a fresher memory. But when Alonso placed his Alpine second on the grid in Montreal last year, the Spaniard knew beforehand that he couldn’t dream of winning.
This time the dream is a bit more concrete. Alonso is in an Aston Martin and he underlined his good form from Bahrain in Jeddah. Nevertheless, the record participant warns against setting unrealistic goals now. “Red Bull are racing in a different world. It would be foolish to hope that we could beat them head-to-head. Taking off now would be the biggest mistake we can make.”
Nevertheless, the self-confidence has already made a good leap. When Perez mentioned that despite Verstappen’s mishap, there were two Red Bulls in the front row, one real and one green, Alonso retorted wittily: “Mercedes says our rear is a Mercedes. It seems like everyone suddenly wants an Aston Martin be.”
Will Alonso attack Perez on Sunday, or is it a look in the rear-view mirror?
Krack doesn’t want to be second
Aston Martin team boss Mike Krack believes that his star pilot is deliberately keeping the ball flat: “We’re not here to finish second. When a driver like Fernando starts from the front row, he certainly doesn’t go into the race with the goal of second to become. Then he wants more.”
The British racing team has tasted blood because on paper they are only dealing with a Red Bull, and with the supposedly worse one at that. Max Verstappen is 13 places behind Alonso.
Here, too, the assessment of the team boss and the driver differs. While Krack believes Verstappen will have a hard time fighting his way up the front, Alonso warns: “Max will eventually catch up with us and at least get on the podium. He started 15th last year and still won the race. “
However, the two-time world champion does not want to write off his 33rd GP victory entirely. “Formula 1 doesn’t obey rules like mathematics. Who would have thought that Max would have to start from so far back? Last year’s race in Jeddah showed that you need a lot of things to win. A good start, a smart strategy, tire management and luck. Checo lost the race because a safety car came in at the wrong time.”
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Normally, the Aston Martin is faster in the race than in qualifying.
Hardly any gain of time in Q3
As in Bahrain, Alonso was just under half a second off pole position. That was his only criticism. “We couldn’t improve as much in Q3 as the track would have allowed. That’s one of our weaknesses.” In fact, the Aston Martin driver gained just 0.027 seconds on his Q2 time in Q3. Sergio Perez gained 0.370s, Charles Leclerc 0.483s and George Russell 0.275s. Lance Stroll in the second Aston Martin even lost time on his fastest Q2 lap, but that was also due to a mistake at Turn 22.
In contrast to Red Bull, Aston Martin has trimmed its cars for a relatively large amount of downforce. The difference in the three speed measurements was between 10.0 and 13.4 km/h. On the other hand, the Aston Martins were on par with the fastest car in the field in the first and second sectors. Alonso only lost three tenths in the third section. The strong long runs on Friday are encouraging. “Usually Sunday is our better day. We should have a car with which we can defend ourselves against Ferrari, Mercedes and Alpine.”
Overall, the oldest driver in the field was satisfied. “In Bahrain we were able to prepare with three days of testing. It was easier to show good form there. Jeddah is a completely different circuit and everyone started from scratch. It was a great relief for us that we had a strong track there again performance.”
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