Fernando Alonso coy on Aston Martin chances after Saudi Arabian GP Friday

Oliver Harden
Fernando Alonso surrounded by Aston Martin mechanics. Bahrain March 2023

Double World Champion Fernando Alonso surrounded by Aston Martin mechanics. Bahrain March 2023

Fernando Alonso has refused to declare that Aston Martin currently have the second-fastest car in Formula 1 after once again being the only driver to trouble the dominant Red Bulls in Friday practice at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. 

After starting the 2023 season with a podium in Bahrain, Alonso was a fixture in the top three throughout the opening day of running in Jeddah.

Having been third in FP1, seven tenths adrift of Max Verstappen’s table-topping time, Alonso rose to second – ahead of the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez – and closed the gap to Verstappen to two tenths in the evening session.

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Alonso excelled in practice in Bahrain two weeks ago, leading FP2 and FP3, but was unable to sustain his pace into the first qualifying session of the season as he ended up fifth on the grid.

Despite being satisfied with his Friday’s work in Saudi Arabia, Alonso is aware there is no guarantee that the AMR23’s pace will be translated into Saturday’s sessions in Jeddah.

Per Sky Sports F1, he said: “Bahrain, we were okay. P1 on Friday and then we were P5, nearly P6 in qualifying so you never know until we get to qualifying.

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“But we tested what we wanted to test in the car. I think it’s still not an ideal balance so we still need to chase a little bit of grip tonight.

“But so far, so good. It’s another good start.”

With Mercedes doubting the developmental direction of their car and Ferrari still plagued by reliability and tyre management limitations, it has been claimed that Aston Martin currently occupy the space between Red Bull and the rest on pace.

Alonso, however, stopped short of claiming his car is the second best right now.

“I have no idea,” he said. “I just drive the car and [in] qualifying I see where I am.

“But obviously, there are a lot of free practice [sessions], a lot of days between races, a lot of data to analyse and a lot of predictions and estimations for you guys to do.

“That’s the beauty of Formula One as well, but for us teams or drivers it’s difficult to read anything [into] free practices.”