Formula 1 Racing

Alonso content to be one second off podium on a “bad” Aston Martin weekend · RaceFans

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Baku City Circuit, 2023

Fernando Alonso was happy his worst result of the 2023 season so far still saw him finish a only second away from another podium finish.

The Aston Martin driver failed to finish on the podium for the first time this season in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, taking fourth place in the race after starting from sixth on the grid.

Alonso was just eight tenths of a second behind third-places Charles Leclerc at the chequered flag after pursuing the pole-winning Ferrari for the majority of the race.

“It was very good,” said Alonso about his afternoon. “Very happy with the result and the pace of the car.

“I think the weekend was not maybe as competitive as the first three races, but even with that I think today in the race, the car pace was very good, very strong and we challenged for the podium – only one-second to Charles. So that’s very encouraging for us.

“I think in a bad weekend for an Aston, we are fighting for the podium against one of the best weekends for Ferrari. They were in pole position for the sprint race, pole position for the main race and they were just one second in front of us on Sunday, so good news.”

For the second race in succession, Alonso spent a large part of a grand prix chasing another car but being unable to get close enough to attempt a pass. Alonso said he tried to preserve his hard compound tyres before attacking Leclerc late in the race but was unable to put the Ferrari driver under pressure.

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“When you go within one second, it’s just enough with the amount of downforce you lose to be in a very risky situation of locking up a tyre or touching the wall,” Alonso explained.

“I had two or three moments when I was that close to Charles, so I said ‘I will back off a little bit’. On the last few laps I tried to get close again, but he had a little bit of pace in hand and it was not possible.”

After he and Aston Martin team mate Lance Stroll struggled with a DRS fault in Friday qualifying and in Saturday’s sprint race, Alonso said the team found a solution for the grand prix itself.

“It worked today,” he said. “A lot of speed – I’ve never been that fast down a straight the whole weekend.

“I was happy with everything in the car, the strength of the car for whatever reason is still the tyre degradation which seems a little bit better than the others. Unfortunately with the Safety Car, we put on the hard tyres and that tyre was very robust until the end. Without…

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