Alonso buoyed as Aston Martin form ‘not a one off’

If you thought the form of Aston Martin in Bahrain was a one-off, think again, as Fernando Alonso showed in Saudi Arabia

If you thought the form of Aston Martin in Bahrain was a one-off, think again, as Fernando Alonso showed in Saudi Arabia

Fernando Alonso not only left Saudi Arabia with the third-place trophy in the end but also with the knowledge Aston Martin’s pace and form are for real.

After finishing third in the season-opening race in Bahrain behind a Red Bull one-two, that result was replicated at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit on Sunday, albeit with Sergio Perez taking the chequered flag as opposed to Max Verstappen initially.

Alonso had to wait until three hours after the race had ended for the result to be confirmed, however, given the contretemps that had ensued surrounding his race penalties, with a 10-second sanction for failing to correctly observe the first five-second punishment reversed by the stewards.

But as the two-time F1 champion pointed out after the race, whether he had been classified third or fourth mattered little.

“The most important thing was to confirm that the car was strong, and it is,” said Alonso. “We were the second fastest.

“We were well ahead of Ferrari, we were controlling Mercedes. I opened seven or eight seconds to George (Russell) in the first stint, and five at the end that could have even been 10.

“So we could open like 15 or 20 seconds to Mercedes and more than half a minute to Ferrari. This was unthinkable on Thursday when we arrived.

“It’s true that in Bahrain we were degrading the tyres less than the others and we took advantage of that.

“But (in Jeddah) we had more pace than the others. It was not a tyre thing.

“It seems that we are in the fight, that Bahrain was not a one-off, and this is very good news for us.”

Red Bull untouchable but Aston closer

Aside from passing Perez off the start line – with his positioning to the left of his grid box for which he was initially penalised of zero consequence – and leading for the opening two laps, Red Bull was still a level above.

Alonso finished just over 20 seconds behind Perez, although has suggested his AMR23 was “a bit closer” on race pace to the RB19 than in Bahrain.

“In Bahrain, if they pushed they were very far ahead,” he said. “(In Jeddah) They were ahead, untouchable for sure, but I was a little bit closer so that was good.

“The start, apart from being too much on the left, it was good.

“We led the race so we have the first picture of an Aston Martin leading the Formula 1 field for two laps – and hopefully not the last one.”

As to whether that will eventually translate into a race win at some stage this season, the 41-year-old said: “We need some help from them (Red Bull) but it will happen eventually when they cannot always finish first and second.

“There are going to be some circuits where maybe reliability or whatever could help us, and hopefully in those races, we can take the opportunity.”

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