While watching Fernando Alonso race Lewis Hamilton was fantastic, Dutch pundit Tim Coronel reckons the real edge of your seat fight will be between the Spaniard and Max Verstappen.
Alonso turned Aston Martin’s pre-season promise into a podium at Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix, the 41-year-old kick starting his campaign with a third-placed finish.
But while he crossed the line in third place, he was a long way adrift of race winner Max Verstappen with the Dutchman having pulled clear of the chasing pack by lap 3.
Little was seen of Verstappen after that while Alonso was the Driver of the Day as the Aston Martin driver engaged in, and won, three fantastic battles against first George Russell, then Lewis Hamilton and finally Carlos Sainz for the podium.
“We didn’t actually see Max in the picture, only the last few laps,” Coronel told Motorsport.com. “But I liked the rest… You can see that the midfield is nicely put together.
“Alonso of course showed fantastic things, I can only say that he was awarded it. It had you on the edge of your seat.”
But while Coronel appreciated Alonso’s fights with the Mercedes team-mates and the Ferrari, the one he is relishing seeing in future races is Alonso versus Verstappen.
“It would be really cool if he at least started a fight with Max,” he said. “They’re kind of the same characters.
“They don’t let themselves eat the cheese of the bread and if they have to, then together [off the track]. I would love that for the spectators.”
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But while that battle never materialised at the Sakhir circuit, Verstappen too dominant on the day, Alonso did thrill fans with his other battles, most notably against Hamilton.
He initially tried to pass the Mercedes driver only for Hamilton to fight back at Turn 4 before Alonso made a second move through Turn 10.
“The best moment was of course that fight with Hamilton,” Coronel added, “who are two great rivals from their time at McLaren. He surprised everyone, the commentators, myself and Lewis with the point where he tried.”
Not a traditional overtaking spot, the 50-eary-old believes Alonso’s Turn 10 move is a sign of how good the AMR23 is.
“He did so with such bravado,” he continued, “I think Hamilton has been scratching his head along the way: ‘What actually happened here? Because I’m actually the one who pulls off these kinds of actions’.
“You see that fighting spirit in him again. He just smells that point, I think that’s so cool to see.
“Also that motivation to the team, they have delivered a fantastic car. We have to think about that too, otherwise [Lance] Stroll won’t be sixth either. The speed in that car!”
Verstappen believes it’s only a matter of time before Alonso is racing him for the top step of the podium.
“I hope so for Fernando as well because he has had a few years where there was not really a possibility to fight at the front,” the Red Bull driver, told media including PlanetF1.com in the post-Bahrain GP press conference.
“So I’m happy to see him sitting here already in race one. I think also again, I mentioned it before, but at Aston Martin they really have the spirit and drive.
“They want to win and they’ve hired a lot of good people. So I guess it can only get better for them.”