Encouragement for Aston Martin after their worst result of this season

Michelle Foster
Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz look on.

Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) and Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) look on ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Jeddah, 2023.

Fernando Alonso needn’t panic after he recorded his worst result of this season in Spain as Rudy van Buren is convinced there’s nothing “fundamentally wrong”, Aston Martin were just lagging behind.

Arriving at the Circuit de Catalunya dreaming about the prospect of breaking his 10-year drought and doing so in front of his home fans, Alonso instead found himself the second best Aston Martin driver on the weekend.

Out-qualified by Lance Stroll for the first time this season, and by a good half a second, it was later confirmed that Alonso had suffered floor damage that required running repairs.

Lining up fifth and eighth, Alonso brought his car home in seventh place, one position behind his team-mate but less than a second behind him with the Spaniard having shown better race pace in the final stint.

His P7 on the day was Alonso’s worst result of this season but Red Bull’s simulator, test and development driver Van Buren doesn’t believe there’s cause for concern.

“I think it will be fine,” he said of Aston Martin’s long-term prospects. “I think they just had a slightly less weekend where they weren’t on top of it.

“Maybe there were too many expectations in advance, because it was hyped by the media: a home win for Fernando.

“In the first practice he was right there and in the second it was close, that doesn’t help either.

“If it doesn’t click at the right time, then you are actually lagging behind on Sunday. I think this was more the case rather than there is something fundamentally wrong there.

“Normally Fernando is a bit faster than Stroll, and Stroll wasn’t that bad in qualifying.”

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The Dutchman believes their qualifying is what hurt Aston Martin on the day as, starting fifth and eight, Stroll and Alonso found themselves stuck in traffic.

“The midfield is so close together,” he added in an interview with Motorsport.com. “If Alonso hadn’t had his moment in qualifying, where the floor was damaged in his words, he could have started further forward, then there would have been a completely different picture.

“At times the pace wasn’t that bad at all. But if you have to come from too far, you’re in a train and you go along with the speed of the group you’re riding in.”

As for Alonso, the Spaniard has denied that his ‘hype train’ ran out of steam.

“It will not happen again,” he told the official F1 website. “This is our last race without podiums.”

Asked if the team’s lack of pace was down to the track or Aston Martin’s rivals taking a step forward, he replied: “I don’t know. I think a bit of both.

“The track wasn’t the best for us. Already in the first practice session we had a completely different set-up than we had planned in advance. So we had to put in a lot of work before we were satisfied with the car. So far [this year] we’ve always been satisfied with the car after the first practice session”.

“And then the updates from the others who may not have shown their full potential in Monaco and Miami – that is, on the street courses. Here we saw that they might be a little stronger.

“But I’m not worried. It’s going to be better and worse weekends and we will get our chance in Canada.

He added: “I think that in two weeks [in Canada] we will see a completely different picture and hopefully we can fight with the Red Bulls soon.”