Alonso Hails 'Fantastic' Qualifying, But Doesn't Expect To Fight For Podium

Saturday, 09 March 2024 at 14:30
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Fernando Alonso, who scored a P4 during qualifying ahead of the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, suggested he expects a defensive race.
After last week in Bahrain, when Aston Martin lacked too much pace on the top for teams, Fernando Alonso came to Jeddah without expecting any sort of "miracle."
However, the Spanish Matador managed to qualify in P4, which is a great result for a car that is supposedly only the fifth fastest on the grid. He told the media:

"It was fantastic for us, the one-lap performance in this car seems very strong. It was strong in Bahrain. It was strong in all the free practices. Here and now in qualifying, we have confirmed we are now in the mix with McLaren, with Mercedes which is a bit of a surprise."

Aston Martin showed their surprising pace in FP1 and the FP2 sessions on Wednesday, when the Spanish driver finished in P2 and P1.
But the 42-year-old asserts that this is only a one-lap pace and that Aston Martin will most likely be at a disadvantage compared to its rivals in long runs.

"In Bahrain, we were strong on one lap and then finished in our natural position in the race, the fifth-fastest team behind the top four. So tomorrow, we want to avoid that. We start P4, and hopefully, we will not fall behind the Mercedes and the McLarens."

In Bahrain, Alonso started in P6 and then finished in P9 as he lost positions to all the drivers from the top four teams behind him. He hopes to avoid this scenario at Jeddah Corniche Circuit. He added:

"[My race is] in the mirrors. Unfortunately, at the moment, we have to keep our feet on the ground. Five days ago, we were clearly the fifth-fastest team, and I don't think we could have changed so rapidly. We qualified extremely well in the last two events."

"Now, we did some set-up changes to improve the race performance, we will only have the answer tomorrow night after finishing the race. Let's see, I think it's a defensive race tomorrow."