Fernando Alonso and Charles Leclerc discuss Alpine’s ‘very quick’ race pace

F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia - Qualifying
Third placed qualifier Fernando Alonso of Spain and Aston Martin F1 Team attends the press conference after qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 18, 2023 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Fernando Alonso said that he doesn't have any particular strategy to beat his former team Alpine, if they are quicker in the Saudi Arabian GP. The Spanish former champion believes in focusing on their own race and executing it perfectly.

On the other hand, Charles Leclerc claimed that Alpine could be a factor but a matter to be dealt with in the race itself.

Asked by Sportskeeda if he had a strategy in place to fend off his former team Alpine, Alonso said:

"I mean, nothing really that we will have to do specifically to them. I think we have to concentrate on our race and let's see what is possible. You know, if they are faster than us, and they finish in front of us, that's something that maybe it's not in our hands.
"What we have to do is not make any mistake and execute the race to perfection. And that perfection, if it’s enough to finish in front of some of these teams, okay, if it’s not enough, we will try to improve for the next one."
Fernando Alonso in action
Fernando Alonso in action

On his strategy against a quick Alpine in the race, Charles Leclerc said he doesn't have one specially for that team:

“Yeah, exactly the same. Alpine seems to be very quick, especially [in] coming race day. But yeah, let’s see tomorrow. I don't have any particular plan for beating the Alpine.”

Leclerc, who starts outside the top 10, will have to battle the Alpines to surge through the grid. Pierre Gasly did issue a warning ahead of the Saudi Arabian GP that they were targeting a top 5 finish and their car had the potential to be competitive in the race. The Frenchman managed to finish ninth after starting 20th on the grid at the Bahrain GP.

Fernando Alonso highlights their strengths at the Saudi Arabian GP

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso

With their qualifying pace being slightly slower than in Bahrain, Fernando Alonso thinks track evolution did not help them in the way they expected. The double champion thinks that their racing pace was their strong point around the Jeddah Corniche circuit.

Asked how the track evolved during the qualifying session, the Spanish driver said it wasn't "mega fast":

“I think it did. But probably we were expecting more. To be honest, I think the expectations for the Q1 cut-off and the Q2 cut-off were a bit faster. So the track was not mega fast, let's say, tonight. But the same for everybody. I think we optimised our lap and our package. Our strength so far has been the long runs and how we treat the tyres on the long runs. So yeah. Let's see tomorrow what we can do.”

Asked if he could beat Perez, Alonso refused to give a clear-cut answer:

"I don’t know. I think we are not in that position yet. I think on pure pace, I think Red Bull is in another league. 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 I think our race is just behind us. But we saw today [Saturday], Max probably was in his league today in qualifying and he could not complete the qualifying with a mechanical issue apparently, so we will try to take the opportunity for sure."

With Leclerc being demoted to the 11th spot due to a 10-place grid penalty, Fernando Alonso gets promoted to the front row in the race. However, beating Sergio Perez to the first corner and keeping other rivals such as Ferrari, Alpine, and Mercedes at bay is going be key to targeting a potential victory.

The Spanish driver was uncertain as to whether they could beat Red Bull on pure pace and was cautiously optimistic.

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Edited by Akshay Saraswat
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