Fernando Alonso looks to old team McLaren to improve Aston Martin fortunes

Oliver Harden
A close-up shot of Fernando Alonso looking into the distance with a prominent McLaren logo alongside him

Fernando Alonso hopes Aston Martin can replicate McLaren's in-season development from last season

Fernando Alonso has challenged Aston Martin to replicate McLaren’s 2023 development curve after a muted start to the F1 2024 season at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Alonso and Aston Martin emerged as the surprise package at the beginning of last season, claiming six podium finishes in the opening eight races.

Fernando Alonso hoping for McLaren-style Aston Martin rise

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

The Silverstone-based team faded as the season progressed, however, with Alonso restricted to just two more podiums after June’s Canadian GP.

Alonso produced a fine qualifying performance to line up sixth on the grid in Bahrain, ahead of McLaren drivers Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri as well as Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

Yet the two-time World Champion had a lonely race on Saturday, ultimately crossing the line in ninth – 18 seconds behind Piastri and 19 ahead of team-mate Lance Stroll.

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Speaking to media including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher after the race, Alonso claimed the race played out exactly as Aston Martin’s simulations had predicted – claiming his own “exceptional” qualifying lap was the outlier of his weekend.

He said: “Everything is exactly what we expected.

“Our simulations were saying that we were around P9 with not much fight in front of us, the top four teams are a little bit too much ahead with a comfortable gap behind and it was exactly like that.

“I had the McLarens 18 seconds ahead and the Sauber [of 11th-placed Zhou Guanyu] 28 seconds behind, so we were in the middle of no one’s race.

“I think we are lacking pace, for sure. I think yesterday’s laps are something to study, why we were so fast.

“I think the race was normal. What was exceptional was yesterday’s lap.”

Alonso claimed Aston Martin have altered their “philosophy” in the hope of avoiding another mid-season slump in 2024, with the team aiming to be more competitive over a broader proportion of the season.

The 42-year-old has challenged the team to become 2024’s answer to McLaren, who recovered from a slow start to 2023 to emerge as Red Bull’s most consistent threat in the second half of the season.

Asked if it is hard to accept that Aston Martin have taken a step back, he said: “No. When I went to the factory over Christmas and in January, the expectations were very realistic.

“We knew what kind of step we were making over the winter, but I think we changed completely the philosophy of how to approach the championship with a good starting point, but then a very continuous progress during the season.

“Last year, we put everything into the beginning and then we were not able to react to the fast pace of the top teams, so we have more hopes this year in the second part of the championship.

“Obviously, we need to reconfirm that in a few weeks time and a few races time, but I’m confident. I’m happy.

“I’m where I expected to be, to be honest – four or fifth-fastest team as we finished last year, so we start at the same point as we finished in Abu Dhabi.

“Now it’s up to us to do a kind of McLaren 2023 step and become a stronger team in the second part [of the year].”

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