Alonso: Our strength lies in the long runs

Fernando Alonso’s resurgence continued as he dazzled with Aston Martin in qualifying to secure a front row start for the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and with another podium in sight the Spaniard believes his AMR23 will be better suited for long runs than for hot laps.

It might have been his first pole since 2013 had he been able to defeat Red Bull pacesetter Sergio Perez. In the end, the Spaniard was P3 on the timing screens but will be second on the grid as Charles Leclerc suffered a ten-place grid drop due to a PU-related penalty that the Ferrari driver will take in Jeddah.

Immediately after the session at Jeddah Parc Ferme, Alonso said: “Qualifying was our place of the week in Bahrain, but we did very well [here] Let’s see what we can do. It is amazing. We are confident, we feel very strong. The strongest part is the long run pace, so it should be better on Sunday.”

Alonso later added in the team report: “Overall we must be very happy to start from the front row tomorrow. It’s a very different track to Bahrain and seeing us fighting again in Q3 is a positive sign.

“The track has evolved throughout the session, but maybe not as much as we expected, especially from Q2 to Q3. Our strength in this package was the long runs so hopefully tomorrow we can optimize that as much as possible.

“It’s very close between several teams, so it’s going to be an interesting fight for sure. But with both cars starting in the top five, our main goal is to get as many points as possible from this race,” added Alonso.

Stroll: We have a competitive race car and it’s all about it

In the sister car, Lance Stroll, still recovering from his nasty bike accident, also had a solid performance to finish the night in P6; He reported: “The team put in a really strong performance in qualifying and we put ourselves in a great position to fight for a good points tally in the race.

“We weren’t sure if the pace we saw in Bahrain would translate to such a different track here in Jeddah, but the car felt good and we were able to keep pushing the limits during qualifying.

“My last lap went well and I went purple in the first sector, but at Turn 22 I made a small mistake and lost two or three tenths. Still, the fifth start is a good result; We have a competitive race car and anything is possible on Sunday.”

Aston Martin Team Principal Mike Krack summed it up: “A strong performance from the entire team this week gives us a great opportunity and confidence for [the race].

“We’ll start with Fernando on the front row and Lance on the fifth row and we’ll keep working hard to convert today’s speed into results tomorrow. The preparation for qualifying went pretty smoothly: we did our homework on Friday and in the last practice session and both drivers were happy with the car balance before qualifying.

“We expect a very close race tomorrow with the teams around us. It’s usually an intense race here; It can be unpredictable and you must always react and avoid mistakes. But we are ready to fight and we know that we have a good race car,” explained Krack.


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