This is just incredible, admits Alonso


In some ways it was almost like Red Bull had been toying with us all along.

In FP2 and again in FP3, in entirely different conditions, Fernando Alonso had set the pace. Then, again in Q1 and Q2 it appeared that he might be able to pull off one of the biggest shocks of the sport's recent history.

At which point Red Bull simply turned the wick up...

We always knew that the Ferrari has single lap pace, so consequently Alonso wasn't entirely crestfallen to qualify behind the two teams.

Out-pacing the Mercedes drivers, one of whom believes that the Spaniard will be the dark horse today and beat Ferrari to the podium, Alonso was asked if it was possible.

"Let's see," he laughed.

"I'm laughing because going for a podium in race one, it feels too good to be true," he quickly added.

"It feels so strange for me to say we are P5," he continued, "and maybe we are aiming for more. We thought to be honest that the first three teams were untouchable this year with the advantage they had last year. So maybe we try to lead the midfield or mix in the midfield... but now we are saying we start P5 and maybe we fight with the Ferraris for the podium.

"This is just incredible," he grinned. "Let's keep working, keep feet on the ground and execute the race in the best way possible, no mistakes, good start, good pit stops, let's see where we are.

"But yeah, right now we are living a dream."

Compared to 2022 Aston Martin has improved in leaps and bounds, the Silverstone outfit understood to have found almost 2.5s at this circuit, while Red Bull has found around a second, Mercedes 0.7 and Ferrari 0.5.

The team's current standing is in stark contrast to last year, indeed when Alonso announced he was jumping ship from Alpine many believed the Spaniard was making the same mistake as he's made so many times throughout his career, that of leaving a team just as it is about to come good.

The current form of the AMR23 suggests that for once the Spanish Samurai has made the right call.

"It was amazing," he said. "The whole weekend has been unreal for us. It was like too good to be true, every session and every performance of the car.

"In qualifying our expectation was to be around half of a second from Red Bull, I think we are half a second or sixth-tenths from Red Bull. So it was quite right.

"I don't know what to say because eight months ago the project was just a bet but now to be... race one with a completely new car, which I think still needs to unlock a lot of potential to be in the top five, fighting with Ferrari and Mercedes, it seems a little bit unreal. But we'll take it for sure."

Despite Toto Wolff's admission that Mercedes has to go back to the drawing board in terms of its zero-sidepod concept, fans are salivating that we may still see a repeat of some of those feisty battles between Alonso and former teammate, Lewis Hamilton.

"I'm really happy for Fernando," said the Briton, "because he's been here way longer than me and it's good to have him back in the mix.

"Hopefully we'll get some good races," he added.

However, asked about the incredible pace of the Aston Martin - and let's not forget that the team is the successor to tRacing Point - Hamilton replied: "They have pretty much the whole back end of our car, they have half our car. So it's definitely not great for us."

Thankfully for Aston Martin fans however, the team avoided the zero-sidepod concept, as did everyone else.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Manama here.

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Published: 05/03/2023
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