Alonso dismisses Saudi win hope as Red Bull ‘in another league’
By Ian Parkes
Sunday 19th March, 2023 - 8:41pm
Fernando Alonso will be looking more in his mirrors than thinking of a race win in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
The Aston Martin driver delivered another fine performance in qualifying at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit to finish third quickest.
Alonso, however, will start on the front row alongside polesitter Sergio Perez in his Red Bull as second-fastest Charles Leclerc drops 10 places for a change of the control electronics in his SF-23.
The two-time F1 champion, however, has ruled out the possibility of him ending his 10-year wait for a 33rd victory in Formula 1.
Instead, Alonso will be keeping an eye behind him as he is convinced Max Verstappen will come charging through the field from his position of 15th on the grid after his RB19 sustained a driveshaft failure in Q2.
“I think Max will come eventually in the race,” said Alonso. “They (Red Bull) have this advantage.
“There is no doubt he will be on the podium, probably, minimum.
“This (the win) is not our goal. When we launched the car on the 13th of February, I remember very well a conversation with Mike Krack (team principal), with Lance (Stroll), with the senior management of the team, setting the goals for this year.
“The goals were not fighting Red Bull for the win, so let’s keep it simple. Let’s keep our feet on the ground, and don’t make any mistakes.
“Even if we are competitive, we cannot leave these kinds of weekends, which are so good for us, with no points. That would be our biggest mistake. So whatever is available, I’m sure we will take.”
Anything can happen – Alonso
Given the pace of the Red Bulls around the world’s fastest street circuit, Alonso has no doubt his battle will be with the cars behind, such as Mercedes’ George Russell and Carlos Sainz in his Ferrari, who start third and fourth respectively.
Despite dropping to 12th, Leclerc is another driver likely to make his way through the field.
“On pure pace, Red Bull is in another league,” assessed Alonso. “And I think we have to concentrate more on the teams behind.
“So Ferrari will be very strong. Mercedes, they are strong, and also Alpine, they are fast here. So our race is just behind us.”
Holding out for the hope of possible unpredictability, Alonso added: “But we saw (in qualifying), Max probably was in his league and he could not complete the qualifying with a mechanical issue.
“Formula 1 is not exact mathematics. Anything can happen and in qualifying not one of us would have put Verstappen P15, but these things happen sometimes.
“For us, the most important thing is to score points. We are starting both cars in the top five. We try to finish both cars in the top five and keep accumulating points for the constructors’ championship.
“That’s the main goal for Aston Martin this year.”
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