Fernando Alonso achieved a amazing fifth place on the back of his AMR23 in the first classification of the 2023 Formula 1 World Cup, this Saturday at the Bahrain Grand Prix, and no matter how hard he tried, he could not hide from the media a smile that gives him away and feeds the illusion for Aston Martin and ‘The Mission’ for this season.
The sensations offered by the British team and the Asturian driver from preseason to free practice have been confirmed by leaps and bounds, to the surprise even of an Alonso who tries to hidebut who knows and shows that he has, after ten years, car to give war in the noble part of the grill. More war even than he himself could have expected.
Asked at the DAZN microphones at the end of the qualifying session, the Oviedo player celebrated that fifth place with prudence and almost disbelief: “It went very well, the truth is that you don’t just believe it when you’re in free practice 1 and 2, you think that you will return to reality, and in the chrono It is true that we lack that half second to fight for pole positionbut hey, it was just the expectations we had, around the fifth/sixth… You almost have to pinch yourself“.
“When I signed for Aston Martin eight months ago things looked much worse. I’m very surprised, you don’t just believe it,” insisted the ’14’, who he saw as “too optimistic” as he later admitted on SkySports to take pole position in Bahrain, in the first race, when his initial claims were “to do Q3 with both cars”.
And speaking of AMR23, once his spectacular performance assimilated, he also left some clue that will excite his followers even more, almost as much as himself: “This car is just the base. It is the beginning of the project practically. The designers tell me that Very important things are coming, evolutions in the next races. It fills you with excitement to see how hungry everyone on the team is.”
“For tomorrow… we’ll see”warns, remembering again that “The strong point of the car, until now, has been the long runs”, so he would like “to be able to fight for good points” starting from that fifth position. The Asturian, who had Mercedes despite his poor results in free practice, He hopes to be “very close to the podium”especially if something happens between the cars in front.
“We are going to be very even, and that is the beautiful thing. Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes… and Aston Martin, all in half a second, in some circuits some will go faster than others… It promises to be a fun championship“Acknowledged Alonso to finish, letting the enthusiasm flow a little more and preparing the ground for the first race of the year, in which”being in the ‘top 5’ is almost a dream“.
As an added detail, in his aforementioned interview with the English channel SkySports, he returned to greet the former champion Nico Rosbergwho asked him directly about Dan Fallows and if he hadn’t seen the “magic” coming that he could put in the car, to which he responded with an even bigger smile, shrugging: “Yeah, I mean, cI trust the people we are working withwhom Lawrence (Stroll) hired.”
What is clear is that at Aston Martin work does not stop for a second to improve the AMR23, and that they know more than they can, or want to say. Without going further, Mike KrackAston Martin team manager, predicted great things for his team in Sunday’s race: “Tomorrow we will be more aware of what happens in front than what happens behind. The car goes very well on long runs. The whole team is a very strong unit, I am very proud of them.”
Even among its competition, the “concern” has been evident, from the mouths of the Red Bull protagonists themselves. the poleman Max Verstappen confessed that he would like to have Alonso “up there” to be able to fight him, and Marko Helmutadviser to the Austrian team, directly pointed out him as his main rival on Sunday: “Without a doubt, Fernando Alonso, we know this from our analysis of the long runs. Ferrari suffers too much degradation to compete.”
That certain suspicion towards Aston Martin and Fernando Alonso, like the moderate optimism of the Asturian, are not accidental. british brand is the one that has improved the mostfar from his best qualifying time in Bahrain last year, no less than 2’1 seconds; and Fernando wasn’t that close to pole time for the first World Cup race since 2010 (6 tenths today, 1 tenth with Ferrari that year). Plenty of reasons and signs to dream about Sunday… and to make it even stronger with the rest of the season.