Fernando Alonso makes worrying Red Bull prediction for Spanish Grand Prix

Oliver Harden
Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso smiling on the podium with their champagne bottles. Bahrain March 2023

Race winner Max Verstappen and third placed Fernando Alonso smiling on the podium with their champagne bottles. Bahrain March 2023

Fernando Alonso has played down his own chances of victory at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, with the Aston Martin man predicting a one-two finish for Red Bull in Barcelona.

Alonso has emerged as the dominant Red Bull team’s closest threat in the early months of the 2023 season, finishing on the podium at all but one of the six races held so far.

His best start to a season since his penultimate year at Ferrari in 2013 has raised expectations that his decade-long wait for a grand prix win could end soon.

Alonso’s last F1 triumph came at his home race in Barcelona, but with Red Bull making a perfect start to the season – and Ferrari and Mercedes introducing potentially game-changing upgrades – he does not expect a win to come this weekend.

He told the official F1 website: “It feels good. Obviously there is a special energy every time in Spain when I come here and I see all the fans.

“I don’t think, realistically, we can fight for the victory. Let’s be clear.

“Red Bull has been very dominant all season long so I don’t see any reason why in Barcelona they should not aim for one-two, but let’s see what we can do.

“A few updates for everybody, especially for Ferrari and Mercedes in Monaco, so let’s see.”

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Having gone seven years without an F1 podium finish between 2014 and 2021, Alonso was asked if he has had to readjust his mindset after returning to competitiveness with Aston Martin in 2023.

The 41-year-old pointed to his recent success in the World Endurance Championship with Toyota in 2018/19 to stress that he never truly lost that winning feeling.

“Not much, not much,” he said. “I didn’t change anything.

“I was always going into the race fighting for whatever position with the mentality of getting the maximum from the car – sometimes it’s P7, sometimes it’s a podium possibility.

“I know that in Formula 1 it has been a few years already since the Ferrari times, but in endurance I was going into every race winning the race or the World Championship so it’s not that long ago.”

Alonso and Aston Martin were accused of letting Red Bull and Max Verstappen off the hook at last weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix after pitting for slick tyres as rain began to fall around the track, with the Spaniard having to return to the pits a lap later to switch to intermediates.

Almost a week on, Alonso has defended the call and sees it as a reflection of the team’s progress – having finished a lowly seventh in the 2022 standings – that Aston Martin were disappointed to come second in Monaco.

Asked if the team had made a strategic error in Monte Carlo, he said: “I don’t know. I think if we had a crystal ball and we know everything, maybe you do things differently.

“But I think we had a free stop at that time so we could stop for dries and see how the situation was and, eventually, if it rains heavier, stop for inters, and it’s what we did.

“We were P2 in Monaco, so it’s a little bit amazing that we are still talking that we did something maybe potentially wrong. And if we had stopped for inters, we would [say] that Red Bull stopped one lap too late for inters.

“So there is always this search for perfection for each team that is sometimes difficult to get when conditions are so changeable.”