Horner: “Outstanding” Alonso a “standout” driver in 2023 F1 season

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A fifth podium in six races for Fernando Alonso at the Monaco Grand Prix yesterday has seen the Spaniard consolidate P3 in the Drivers’ Championship.

He’s moved 24 points clear of Lewis Hamilton, and the two-time World Champion now trails Sergio Pérez by just 12 points.

Speaking at his post-race media session, the Red Bull team boss stated he doesn’t believe 2023 is going to turn into the Max Verstappen show.

Horner was equally full praise for the job Alonso did on the streets of Monte Carlo this weekend.

Photo credit: Red Bull

“I don’t think so. It’s so early to predict that but we’ve got 14 races to go. There’s a lot that can go wrong.

“We’re six races into this championship. Max has driven brilliantly, Checo had a weekend to forget here but has been on great form, and we’re going to see what the output of the upgrades is in Barcelona next weekend.

“It’s impossible to judge here and you have to take your hat off to Fernando [Alonso] this weekend. I thought Max and he were outstanding this weekend.”

Alonso’s performance was quite impressive. He was the only driver able to stay within the pitstop window of Verstappen throughout the race.

The gap had looked like it would go beyond a pitstop in the opening stint as Verstappen had built up an 11.8s lead by lap 24 on his mediums versus the hards of the Spaniard. However, Alonso quickly shut it to under 6s as Verstappen struggled with traffic and graining.

The Dutchman got through that difficult phase again to extend the gap to over 10s before the rain fell. Ultimately Aston Martin blinked and changed from hards to mediums first. It turned out to be the wrong call as the rain got heavier.

Horner once again showed his admiration for the job Alonso did yesterday and how he kept Red Bull and their lead driver under pressure throughout the 78 laps.

He also explained the similarities he sees with Verstappen and Alonso behind the wheel.

“They’re [Aston Martin] the closest to us. You could see the rest of the field were a long way behind. It was only Fernando that was able to stay in touch with Max, keep within a pit stop window and keep dancing around that safety car window as well.

“It’s always a great leveller when the circuit goes a bit damp or the conditions vary, then you see how the drivers adapt, and you could see that both of those two guys were head and shoulders above the rest of the field.

“It’s great to see his confidence, the way he’s driving the car. He and Max are very similar in many respects – the way they drive, how tenacious they are. They’re always pushing, and you could see that they enjoy that competition as well.”

Along with his two drivers, Horner is sure that Alonso has been the standout driver to date in 2023.

“I think, based on what we’ve seen this year, together with Checo considering what he’s done as well, he, together with our drivers, have been the standout ones.”

Photo credit: Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team