Bahrain Grand Prix – Although he wasn’t challenging for the pole, Fernando Alonso is delighted with P5 for his Aston Martin Grand Prix debut tomorrow.
While everyone was taking the apparent Aston Martin pace with a pinch of salt during testing last week, the car, especially in the hands of Alonso, continued to be at or very near to the top of the timesheets all throughout the Bahrain practices too.
Once qualifying came though Alonso remained in the mix with the Ferraris, Mercedes, and Red Bulls and while he wasn’t challenging for the pole he did secure P5 for tomorrow’s race, ahead of both the Mercedes drivers.
“This is just an unbelievable result and car that we are driving at the moment,” Alonso said. “This is just the baseline, it’s the starting point of this project. Everything [is] new, so we have now a good platform that we can develop into the next weeks and the next races.”
“Starting in the top five in race one, this is just unreal. We are enjoying every moment, every practice. It seems too good to be true, too good to be true, but now finally we are in qualifying and we are still top five, fighting with Ferrari and Mercedes. This was unthinkable eight months ago.”
As he’s starting so close to the sharp end of the grid, it will come as no surprise to hear that Alonso is targeting a podium in tomorrow’s race. In the past six season he’s competed in, since 2015, the Spaniard has only picked up one podium, a P3 with Alpine towards the end of 2021. The last time we saw him take the top step at a Grand Prix was his home race in 2013 when he drove for Ferrari, and there are only four other drivers competing this season who were on the grid with him that day: Perez, Hamilton, Hulkenberg and Bottas.
“So far the strength of this car has been the long run,” Alonso explained. “Very low degradation on the car, taking care of the tyres very good. We start top five, so if there is an opportunity, we are very close to the podium.”
Alonso’s teammate, Lance Stroll, will be starting the race from P8, behind the two Mercedes, which is a very impressive result given the Canadian missed testing and is still recovering from the bike accident which caused him to sit out the test days.
“It was a very eventful session,” Stroll said. “I’m just grateful to be here right now. A week ago I was in a hospital bed; I couldn’t move, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t move both hands, fractured a bunch of bones, and I came out of surgery 12 days ago.
“So, it is just insane to try and even make it here, and right now to be thinking that I just did three sessions in qualifying, made it to Q3, and just made it here in general. I’m just really grateful to be here.”