Fernando Alonso claims the start, strategy, and tyre management will play a key role in nailing a good result at the Saudi Arabian GP. Speaking after the qualifying session, the Spanish champion felt confident about their car’s race pace and hoped to maximize the result.
Asked by Sportskeeda if their car had enough pace to narrow the gap to Red Bull in the race and fend off the cars behind him simultaneously, Alonso said:
“Yeah, very tight race, I expect. And that will be defined by small details. One will be the start, one will be the tyre management. The other one will be the strategy. And probably the final one will be the luck, because we saw even last year with Checo, you know, how luck and the Safety Car can play a big factor here.
"So, you know, we have to nail all of these points. I think as a team, we are ready to take care of everything that is in our hands. The car seems to perform well on the long runs. Seems very easy on tyres, as we saw also last year with the old Aston Martin, but also in Bahrain, it seems good. So yeah, let's try to maximise our strengths. And hopefully be lucky as well.”
With a front-row start to the 2023 Saudi Arabian GP, nailing the start and managing tires will be key for Fernando Alonso. The Spanish driver believes that strategy and luck will also play a factor. This was seen in last year’s Jeddah race where Sergio Perez claimed pole position but caught out by a Safety Car, lost positions in the race.
When reminded by Sportskeeda that their long-run pace and other teams behind them were not too far off from Red Bull, the Spaniard exuded confident that they had the pace to narrow down the gap to the front.
Nevertheless, the 41-year-old expects a close race with both the car in front and the ones at the back, and hopes for luck to sway in their favor.
Fernando Alonso mentions that both cars finishing in the top 5 is the realistic target in Jeddah
Without a perfect start, Fernando Alonso believes it will be difficult to beat Perez in the race. The Spanish driver was cautiously optimistic about his expectations from the race in terms of beating the Red Bulls on pure pace.
However, the double champion feels the sport can be unpredictable, citing Max Verstappen’s qualifying result which was 15th, after he broke a driveshaft in his car.
The former Renault champion felt a realistic target for Aston Martin in 2023 would be to finish in the top 5 consistently, for a good result in the Constructor’s championship.
Asked what more could be done to fight Perez in the race apart from the start, Fernando Alonso replied:
“I don't think so. I don't think so. I don't want to sound pessimistic, but if we see the pace the whole weekend in free practice, we see the Bahrain race. We have to be honest with ourselves and know that Red Bull is a little bit ahead of everyone. So that's not, let's say, the target tomorrow, you know, to fight for the win with Checo. But as I said before, Formula 1 is not exact mathematics, you know, anything can happen and today, no one of us will put Verstappen P15, you know, but these things happen sometimes.
"So, 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.”
Given the long runs of free practice, Red Bull are not far ahead by a mile and have reliability concerns. Meanwhile, Aston Martin faces stiff competition from Ferrari, Mercedes, and Alpine, who are within a tenth-of-a-second off each other.
Despite qualifying third behind Charles Leclerc, the Ferrari driver's penalty promotes Fernando Alonso to front row in second place. Given the history of the Jeddah circuit of producing unpredictable, incident-filled races, grabbing the lead from Perez and having a clean race will be key to achieving a good result or a win.