“To start that strong brings me a lot of optimism for the future” — Alonso on P6 in qualifying for F1 Bahrain GP

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Fernando Alonso was pleasantly surprised after qualifying in sixth place for the Bahrain Grand Prix, just behind the Ferraris, Red Bulls and the Mercedes of George Russell. Despite initial doubts about the team’s performance following winter testing, Alonso was satisfied with the car’s competitiveness in the qualifying hour.

“It was a nice surprise to find ourselves competitive. After winter testing, we had some doubts in terms of one-lap pace. In free practice, it was a different car. This weekend we felt more competitive, but normally we run more engine or less fuel or whatever, and we find reality sometimes in qualifying,” Alonso explained, emphasising the unpredictable nature of Formula 1.

The two-time World Champion approached the qualifying session with caution about their chances. However, the team’s performance exceeded expectations, putting them in close contention with Ferrari and ahead of significant competitors like Lewis Hamilton and McLaren. “We were cautious entering qualifying. We found ourselves quite competitive in Q1 and Q2, and in Q3 we are in the mix.

Within one tenth we are together with the Ferrari, in front of Hamilton, together with the McLarens. It was a massive surprise and I’m extremely happy,” said an ecstatic Alonso.

When asked about the prospects of converting this qualifying success into a strong race performance, Alonso remained cautiously optimistic. He acknowledged the challenges of racing in a tight group and pointed to the importance of managing tyres and other race-day variables.

Alonso’s focus is not only on the immediate race but also on competing with top teams like Ferrari and Mercedes throughout the season.

“I think it’s a very good start, a little bit unexpected, but we’ll take it. We learned a lot of things last year, as a team, about how to be a contender for big things if we want to compete with Ferrari and Mercedes and these teams. We need to raise the level on development throughout the season,” Alonso added, highlighting the team’s strategic shift in car design and development to remain competitive.

As Alonso and his team prepare for the race, their unexpected strength brings optimism for the season ahead. The Bahrain Grand Prix may just mark the beginning of an intriguing season for the Spaniard, as he aims for not just race victories but a significant impact on the championship standings.