Alonso Downplays Aston Martin's Performance After Successful Two Practice Sessions

Friday, 08 March 2024 at 09:30
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Fernando Alonso tempered expectations after great first two practice sessions ahead of the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
The double World Champion took P2 in the timing sheets after FP1 and P1 after FP2. These results are to be taken with a grain of salt, but based on these two practice sessions, Aston Martin seems to have a great qualifying pace.
While no team focuses on beating others in the practice sessions, it generally suggests good potential if a driver from one team is at the top of the standings for two sessions in a row.
Max Verstappen on Red Bull, a race favorite, took P3 and P1 during these first sessions and suggested that some other teams have perhaps been using more powerful engine modes.
Alonso suggested the same thing as he tried to temper expectations ahead of the qualifying day. He told the media at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit:

"We are faster in free practice than in qualifying, I think we run a different strategy in terms of fuel loads, engine modes and so on."

The first race of the season showed that Aston Martin could be competitive in terms of one-lap all-out performance but struggles in long runs.
During the Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying, Alonso's lap of 1:29.542 put him in P6, 0.363 seconds behind Verstappen. In the race, however, he finished 74.887 seconds behind the Dutchman. That averages out to an average loss of 1.31 seconds per lap.
Naturally, the Spanish Matador himself didn't have high expectations going into the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend, as he said he did not expect any miracles.
On the other hand, Aston does seem a bit stronger in Jeddah and the 42-year-old added everything so far has been going according to the plan.

"We keep our programme ahead, not really any issues with the car, set-up possibilities also quite open for [Friday]. But definitely a good Thursday for us."