Alonso: “Unrealistic to think we will be close to the top 3 – step by step”

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Photo: Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team

With testing now behind us and all eyes on the opening race of the season, there is no shortage of buzz amongst fans and indeed a fair amount of buzz centering on Aston Martin’s AMR23 and what newcomer Fernando Alonso might do with it. At the car launch earlier in the month, new Technical Director, Dan Fallows revealed the car was “95% different” to its predecessor, with the team having followed a radically different concept for 2023. Signs from testing may prove that decision was the right one.

Apart from Felipe Drugovich, who is standing in for injured Stroll bringing out red flags early on the first day with an electrical issue, the car ran well through the 3-day test in Bahrain and its pace set tongues wagging to boot, with social media alight with fans’ speculation about what positions we could see double world champion Alonso fighting for this season. However the Spaniard is a wily old campaigner and didn’t want to get too carried away in the early excitement post testing and while the car “feels good” said it will be some races before the team truly know what they have on their hands.

“I think Jeddah, Australia and Imola, I think these circuits because they are very different to each other are needed to get an overall picture of the car but I think the team is progressing well, we are in very early days and I think there is a lot more potential to unlock in the car.”

The 41-year-old was also quick to remind people that he is in the sport to fight at the top end and not languish at the back of the grid: “

Alonso’s long run times in particular were very impressive and perhaps the most encouraging for the team. He put in 80 laps on Saturday, with his best time a 1.31.450. When asked about the long run performance he replied: “They were good but obviously, you never know inside the car what the others are doing so…yeah, the car was easy to drive all three days, no nasty surprises or nothing really from a driver’s point of view that is annoying while driving.

”So that in the long runs is always a plus so you can drive consistently lap after lap and understand what the car is asking but it is only testing so we don’t know how much people are pushing. but for us it is about knowing the car and as I said I think this car requires a very different setup direction from last year because the concept of the car is so different we need more time to optimise it.”

The Spaniard was quick to downplay the possibility of battling with Mercedes and ultimately tried to be realistic despite being repeatedly pressed about the new car’s potential.

“That’s not our target to be honest, we want to make a step forward in 2023 and another step forward in 2024 – there are no miracles in Formula 1. Last year Aston Martin was 7th in the constructors Championship so we need to see what we can do. We don’t want to be 7th but I think it’s unrealistic to think we will be close to the top 3 at the same time – step by step.”

Target or not, Alonso and the rest of the Aston Martin team (along with their fans) will be more than pleased if the AMR23 does indeed prove capable of not just making a jump on their midfield counterparts – but breaking out of it altogether. Though just like Alonso himself, we need to be conscious that it is just testing. However, it isn’t long until we will find out.