Aston Martin was the surprise package of the Bahrain Grand Prix earlier this month, with Alonso taking a podium on his first race with the Silverstone team.
But with pre-season testing also taking place at the abrasive Sakhir circuit, teams only received a partial picture of one single race track, and Alonso said Aston came to the second race in Jeddah with “some question marks” about whether it would be able to confirm its giant leap forward at Jeddah’s vastly different street circuit.
“I came to Jeddah with some question marks about our performance in Bahrain,” Alonso said after qualifying third in Saudi Arabia, but will be promoted to second due to Charles Leclerc’s grid penalty.
“It was very good, but we did our winter testing in Bahrain and race one in Bahrain. We didn’t test the new ’23 cars on any other circuit, so it was important to come to Jeddah and see if we kept being strong in the order.
“To feel competitive again here, obviously, is a huge relief for the team. And this is again an extra motivation for everyone in the factory to keep pushing, because the car seems to perform in any conditions.”
Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images
Alonso remained realistic about any hopes of challenging Red Bull‘s polesitter Sergio Perez. Even as he starts on the front row due to Leclerc’s penalty, the two-time F1 world champion vowed not to be too greedy given Aston’s need to bank the points and build up an advantage over its direct rival Mercedes.
“When we launched the car on the 13th of February, I remember very well a conversation with Mike Krack, with Lance [Stroll], with the senior management of the team, setting the goals for this year, and the goals were not fighting Red Bull for the win,” he said.
“So let’s keep it simple. Let’s keep the feet on the ground and don’t make any mistakes.
“Even if we are competitive we cannot leave these kinds of weekends that are so good for us with no points, that would be our biggest mistake. So whatever is available, I’m sure we will take.”
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