Fernando Alonso predicts a ‘very fast Mercedes’ as Aston Martin aim to confirm pace

Sam Cooper
Fernando Alonso smiling wearing sunglasses. Saudi Arabia, March 2023.

Fernando Alonso smiling wearing sunglasses. Saudi Arabia, March 2023.

Fernando Alonso has called on Aston Martin to prove their opening race was not a fluke as they head to Saudi Arabia.

Despite not winning the race, Aston Martin and Alonso left the Bahrain circuit in a jubilant mood with the Spaniard turning pre-season hope into on-track performance with a podium.

Behind only the Red Bulls, it was an encouraging performance from the Silverstone-based team as Alonso was able to overtake both Lewis Hamilton and Carlos Sainz while team-mate Lance Stroll, who suffered fractured wrists just a week beforehand, finished ahead of George Russell.

But with just one race completed, it remains to be seen how well the AMR23 will fare over the course of the season and Alonso is looking forward to proving the Aston Martin is a quick car after their “first step” last time out.

“I’m really happy,” he told Sky Sports F1. “I think generally we’ve been obviously performing very well in testing and in race one.

“We still obviously need to confirm many things in race two here and then also in Australia. I think we need to wait and see how the car performs at every circuit but generally I think the first step of this project has been done which is a good baseline. So happy with that, let’s see what we can do from here.”

Jeddah is a circuit that is predicted to suit the characteristics of the Ferrari car but Alonso said it is not just his former team that he expects improvement from.

PlanetF1 recommends

Lewis Hamilton quizzed on Bahrain GP criticism and Mercedes exit talk
Red Bull bosses laugh off latest Mercedes rumours: ‘That does not make sense’
Max Verstappen will miss media day in Jeddah after suffering stomach bug

“I think they’re very good at high speed,” he said of Ferrari. “They were very good on the top speed as well on the streets so Jeddah probably will be a strong target for Ferrari.

“Mercedes as well, I expect them to be fast. Alpine, Alfa Romeo are within three or four tenths. Things can change very quickly from circuit to circuit.

“So here for us is more of a challenge in Jeddah coming from Bahrain, trying to set up the car here for these different conditions and see if we can be competitive.”

Alonso also took time to praise his team-mate Stroll with the true extent of his injuries only revealed following the race.

“In the team, we knew what he went through and we were always updated on his progress,” the 41-year-old said.

“When he decided to try on Friday, that was already something heroic. Coming into the car and trying to drive on Friday was something that we didn’t expect.

“So when he decided that he was fit enough to race on Saturday and Sunday, I think it proves to many the determination, his passion for motorsport and we were all very proud of him.”