Fernando Alonso said he was not surprised to see a Ferrari car on pole and that he thought Aston Martin’s consistency was better than that of the Italians.
A non-Red Bull car topped the timesheets for the first time in 2023 as Charles Leclerc produced an excellent lap around the Baku City Circuit to pip Max Verstappen.
For Alonso, it was his worst quali result of the season so far as he was beaten by both the Red Bulls and Ferraris as well as the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton to finish P6.
The Spaniard, who is third in the Drivers’ Championship, was not too pessimistic though, conceding that Ferrari have always had the pace but not the consistency to do well.
“I think in Jeddah they were also in the first row but Charles had to take the penalty,” Alonso told F1 TV. “I think they are generally fast but they’ve been unlucky. The penalty of Carlos [Sainz in Melbourne], the DNF of Charles in Australia. So I think they are fast and they showed it today, but we try to be more consistent than them.”
Alsono said he felt his session “could have been better” but took solace that it was only Friday and there was “a long weekend ahead.
“We had some issues in FP1 but also in qualifying with the DRS which cost us a few tenths. [With the standings] being so tight, I think [the problems] made a difference, but nevertheless it’s only Friday. It’s a long weekend ahead of us. Qualifying tomorrow, another race, another race on Sunday. So plenty of opportunities so hopefully we can recover a few places.”
Saturday will be an unfamiliar feeling in the 22-year career of Alonso as he takes part in the sprint shootout but the two-time World Champion said he was excited by the new challenge.
“It’s going to be exciting. Waking up tomorrow and knowing that you go in the car and it’s Q1 already so there is no warmup, there is no practice. So we have to be ready for that but I quite like the challenge.”
For Alonso’s team-mate Lance Stroll, it was a P9 finish and he also suffered from some DRS problems.
“It was close, the car felt good but we had some DRS issues,” the Canadian said. “But we’ve just got to try and sort that out for the race and then a little night’s sleep and straight back into qualifying for tomorrow morning. So we’re looking forward to some more fast laps.”