Not even in his wildest dreams would Fernando Alonso have imagined that in his first race with Aston Martin he would end up on the podium. Bahrain witnessed a magical third place, legendary, for a driver who had been waiting a decade for a competitive car. ‘Magic’ ended up rubbing shoulders with the almighty Red Bull of Max Verstappen, who won the first Grand Prix of the season, and Checo Pérez. Along the way, he beat the Ferraris after a beautiful duel with Carlos Sainz and the abandonment of Charles Leclerc, and the Mercedes, beating Lewis Hamilton in a battle that he remembered from other times.
The Asturian is not that he has returned, it is that never got to leave. He only needed to have a car at his height to confirm on the track what everyone already knew in the paddock: that he is one of the best pilots in history. He also needed a team behind him that would carry him to the top. In Sakhir it became clear that he already has everything he needs… and everything he can get this year.
They flew over at first Ghosts of the past, with a somewhat slow start, away from those above, waiting for what could happen. And what happened was that Charles Leclerc took second place from Pérez. But nothing more, because the one who was close to starring in the first abandonment of the year was him, who upon arrival at the first corner saw how Lewis Hamilton stole fifth place while his teammate, Lance Stroll, gave him touched on the right rear wheelwhich meant giving up another position to George Russell and staying seventh.
The thing was scared, because there were no problems for either of the two Aston Martins. “They can’t do that!” Alonso said over the radio, exasperated, not knowing that it had been his second sword that almost knocked him out. And with that scare in the body began to pull, restrainedknowing the importance of taking care of the tires and waiting for the moment to attack the Mercedes.
With patience he ended up hunting Russell, who was impossible to keep up with a devilish Fernando. Then it was the turn of Bottas, who was also no match for his Alfa Romeo. Finally he touched an old acquaintance, Hamilton who was waiting in fifth place. “They have more degradation, let’s think about how we use it,” he told his team as he gradually approached the Englishman, who soon entered the pit lane to anticipate a possible ‘undercut’. But even the strategy he condemned Mercedes.
The Germans, too worried about what Alonso might do, called Russell, without remembering that the teams have two pilots. They left it on a platter for Aston Martin: Stroll entered, came out just behind Williams’s ex and passed him without regard; Three laps later, ‘Magic’ did the same, leaving practically wheel to wheel with the seven-time champion. Checkmate from the British.
The Asturian did not take long to take advantage of it to make all of Spain enjoy with a rematch that he had been waiting for 10 years. He passed to Hamilton, who fought back tooth and nail and rallied on Alonso’s mistake. To the next one that the Spanish had, in the most difficult corner of the circuitdid not forgive, ate the inside and stood in front.
Luck smiled on him right after, as the reliability of Leclerc’s Ferrari did not last a whole race, which had changed the battery and the control unit before the Grand Prix. And with this extra motivation he began the pursuit of his compatriot, Carlos Sainz. Not even sharing a flag made Fernando more compassionate. As soon as he smelled blood, he went to the limit and stole third place from Madrid, who held on to fourth place helped by the degradation of the tires on Hamilton’s car.
The checkered flag was accompanied by an image that made the hair stand on end even those interested in Formula 1: ‘Magic’ from side to side while the wall was filled with green. And the madness ended in the closed park, when Alonso got out of the car, celebrated with clenched fists and ran to jump over the entire Aston Martin team, like old timesas they had wrapped him in Renault in 2005 and 2006, and leaving the feeling that the best is yet to come.
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Bahrain GP of F1 2023, live: last minute of Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz