Podium not the target for Alonso in Bahrain

Fernando Alonso suggested the podium is not his target at this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso suggested the podium is not his target at this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso has distanced himself and Aston Martin from suggestions he could stand on the F1 podium after Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Aston Martin proved the revelation of pre-season testing with long-run pace leaving some to claim Alonso and team-mate Lance Stroll will be contenders for the podium places this weekend.

The two-time world champion moved to play down those suggestions on Thursday in Bahrain.

“We will give our best in the race, but that’s just not the target for us,” he said of his podium prospects.

“I think we need to keep learning about the car – only one day and a half, two days of testing on a completely new car, new package.

“I think the top three teams, they were in another league last year – they were lapping sometimes even the fourth team and basically only seven cars finished on the same lap.

“So we can’t make that kind of a step in only one weekend,” he added.

“But I think we have to have the feet in the ground.”

Alonso ‘privileged’ to still race in F1

Alonso is this year setting out on his 20th season competing in Formula 1.

He became the most experienced driver in the world championship’s history late last season when he overtook Kimi Raikkonen for the most number of race starts.

The Spaniard made his debut in Australia in 2001 before sitting out the following year.

He then returned with Renault for 2003, going on to win back-to-back championships in 2005 and 2006 with the squad currently known as Alpine.

Since then, he’s had stints at McLaren, Ferrari, Alpine, and now Aston Martin.

“Privilege to still be driving here, better than ever,” Alonso said on Thursday.

“I have no concerns on age yet.

“I will be the first one to feel it when I lose something, when I miss something while driving, or not being motivated to travel, wake up in the morning and track, or just come here for testing like last weekend.

“So far I only see advantages because I know this track in many different conditions, I know the car, I know the tyres.

“I know some of the circuit that we will drive this year, I’ve been driving already in the past.

“So I don’t see a disadvantage.”

Such has been the longevity of Alonso’s career that his F1 debut came a month before Oscar Piastri was born.

“For me, it’s a privilege to race against Fernando,” said the 21-year-old Australian.

“Obviously I grew up watching him, my first ever kart was a Fernando Alonso kart, actually.

“I also worked with him quite closely last year as well, so for me it’s a privilege to race against him.

“On paper seems a little bit strange for Fernando’s career to be longer than I’ve been alive but it’s a big privilege to race against someone like Fernando.”

Free Practice 1 for the Bahrain Grand Prix gets underway at 14:30 local time (22:30 AEDT) today.

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