Fernando Alonso admits quali result ‘massive surprise’ after winter testing

Sam Cooper
Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin F1 Team, in Parc Ferme after Qualifying

Fernando Alonso will start sixth on the grid for the first race of the year.

Fernando Alonso was left “massively surprised” after he qualified P6 in Bahrain during the first qualifying session of the 2024 season.

The Spaniard and Aston Martin surprised everyone this time last year when he finished third on the Bahrain podium but with expectations much higher this season, there were internal concerns about where they would be in the pecking order.

Those concerns have been washed away with Alonso able to put his car in P6, a result he himself admitted he did not see coming.

Fernando Alonso ‘surprised’ with strong quali result

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

With Alonso in P6 and Lance Stroll in P12, the former admitted it was a welcome sight after pre-season testing.

“I think it was a nice surprise to find ourselves competitive,” he told media including PlanetF1.com. “After winter testing, we had some doubts in terms of one-lap pace.

“This weekend, we felt more competitive but normally we run maybe more engine or less fuel or whatever and we find reality sometimes in qualifying. So we were very cautious into qualifying about our possibilities and we found ourselves quite competitive in Q1 and Q2 and then in Q3.

“Now we are in the mix. We are within one tenth of a Ferrari, in front of [Lewis] Hamilton, together with the McLarens. So it’s a massive surprise and I’m extremely happy.”

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Asked by PlanetF1.com if he was confident it would translate into race pace, Alonso predicted an “extremely tight race.”

“Yesterday, we didn’t look particularly good but let’s see tomorrow,” the two-time World Champion said. “I think it’s going to be an extremely tight race.

“Racing in a group of cars is never an easy thing to manage in terms of tyres and things like that, so let’s see how we deal with those problems. But I think it’s a very, very good start. A little bit unexpected, but we take it.”

As for the team as a whole, Alosno said Aston Martin learnt lessons which will allow them to be competitive with Ferrari and Mercedes.

“We learnt a lot of things last year as a team, how to be a contender for big things,” he suggested.

“If we want to compete with Ferrari and Mercedes and these teams we need to raise the level of development throughout the season. We started with a good base car [last year] but we stuck there for many races.

“This year, we changed the concept of how to design the car and the upgrades and things like that. So to start out strong, it brings me a lot of optimism for the future.”

Read next: Winners and losers from 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying