Alonso “extremely happy” to secure P3 in “stressful” Chinese GP F1 Sprint Qualifying

Photo Credits: Aston Martin Aramco F1 Team
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Formula 1 returned to Shanghai for the first time in five years for the 2024 Chinese GP, and with a new asphalt and reduced running thanks to the Sprint format, it was always going to be a challenge for the drivers, even in the dry – but sudden rain at the end of Sprint Qualifying 2 (SQ2) put all the drivers and teams under even more stress.

With the new surface of the Shanghai International Circuit lacking the ultimate grip of a well embedded asphalt – with some parts even looking like they have been just painted over – SQ3 started under greasy, slippery conditions that proved “stressful” even for a driver of Alonso’s calibre.

The Spaniard put in a storming lap to grab provisional pole with just a couple of minutes remaining, but was then usurped by the British duo of Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton, respectively, finishing the session in third place. Nevertheless, the 42-year-old said he was “extremely happy” with his qualifying result, given Aston Martin possibly lacked the ultimate pace to fight for such positions in the dry:

“[It felt] quite stressful, to be honest,” the two-time world champion told Sky Sports. “In Q1 we were just looking at the radar and the threat of rain was there since the first minute.

“We made some progress in Q1, and then in Q2 [we] just [got through to Q3], because we were P8 or P9, so not super competitive on the dry [conditions].

“And then it rained at the end in Q3 and every lap was a little bit different conditions. The tires were a bit better every lap, but the circuit was a bit worse with more rain so it was difficult to judge the level of grip and the level of risk that you wanted to to apply, so at the end, extremely happy [with P3].”

Despite the truncated weekend format and limited running ahead of both the Sprint and the grand prix, Alonso, who has won two Chinese GP’s in the past, remains optimistic the team can get the necessary data and mileage to gather knowledge on Saturday morning’s Sprint:

“No, not really a clear idea yet,” he said when asked about Aston Martin’s long-run pace at Shanghai.

“But we will find out tomorrow we have a lot of racing laps now in the weekend with the sprint race tomorrow and obviously the main race on Sunday. “So yeah, let’s see if we can qualify well again tomorrow and let’s see.”