Fernando Alonso hits back at Aston Martin detractors as McLaren close in

Jamie Woodhouse
Fernando Alonso speaking into a microphone. Austria, Spielberg. June 2023.

Fernando Alonso is 17 from 17 for Q3 showings.

Fernando Alonso believes his finishing position of P8 in the Japanese Grand Prix was not a fully accurate reflection of Aston Martin’s pace.

On a weekend where McLaren had qualified P2 and P3, Aston Martin knew a strong result at Suzuka was essential as they fight to retain P4 in the Constructors’ Championship against their rapidly-improving rival.

That was not what went down though, Alonso crossing the line P8 while McLaren delivered a double podium to slash Aston Martin’s Constructors’ advantage to 49 points.

Fernando Alonso admits strategy cost Aston Martin

Alonso was critical of his team over the radio after pitting him on Lap 12 to swap the soft tyres for hards, claiming they had “thrown me to the lions” as Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton overtook.

And without what he saw as an error on the strategy front, Alonso felt a better result was possible.

“It was a good race,” he told media after the Japanese GP. “I think mega start, up to P6 and then we had a good pace in the race.

“I think we didn’t optimise the strategy, maybe we stopped too soon at the beginning too early. Maybe that compromised a little bit the final result.

“But we were fast and the pace was a little bit better than expected, so I had fun in the car.”

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Put to him that McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari are now seemingly pulling away from Aston Martin, Alonso returned to the point that he does not think his Suzuka result matched the pace that Aston Martin had.

He accepted though that McLaren, who they are trying to shield P4 from, have moved ahead for performance as he puts his faith in the further AMR23 upgrades to come before the season is over.

“I think today we had a little bit more than the result shows,” Alonso claimed. “I think P6 and definitely P7 was possible after the start.

“But obviously, the McLarens are a little bit too far ahead at the moment, we need to see. Everyone is working flat out in the factory to bring some new parts before the end of the season, so let’s see what we can bring.”

Lance Stroll was unable to add any points to Aston Martin’s total as the team were forced to retire his car due to a rear-wing failure.

The Canadian racer confirmed that the rear wing on his AMR23 was indeed on the brink of falling off.

“We had a problem with the rear wing, it was like falling off,” he said.

“Probably a couple of points [were possible].”

Red Bull sealed the 2023 Constructors’ Championship, making it back-to-back titles as Max Verstappen claimed a dominant Japanese Grand Prix victory.

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