Alonso impressed by Aston running so close to Ferrari

action, Pirelli, Baku City Circuit, GP2304a, F1, GP, Azerbaijan Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23, leads Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23
© Aston Martin F1

Fernando Alonso admitted that he was surprised to find Aston Martin as close to Ferrari as they were in today's Azerbaijan Grand Prix, thanks to a combination of tyre management and weather conditions in Baku.

He was especially gratified by Aston's race performance given the problems that the team had suffered in the lead-up to the race, with intermittent recurring DRS issues a particular headache for the squad.

Even so, he had still managed to qualify in sixth place and went on to finish the race in fourth, narrowly missing extending his remarkable unbroken run of podium places since the start of the year.

“The summary of the weekend is that Aston had a tricky Baku weekend with the DRS problems and the set-up," he told the media after the race. "We weren't that fast in any of the sessions, but we’re still one second from the podium!

“Ferrari, they had a perfect weekend," he continued. "Pole position for the main race, pole position in the sprint race, super-fast car. [Yet] they were just one second from the Astons. So overall, we have to be happy."

With no problems from the DRS today, Alonso was able to pick off Lewis Hamilton and Carlos Sainz at the start of the race.

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Aston Martin F1 Team on the grid. 30.04.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 4, Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Baku Street Circuit, Azerbaijan, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images

However he was unable to find his way around Charles Leclerc during the remainder of the race, in part thanks to cooler conditions developing. He said that tyre degradation was proving a key difference between Aston and Ferrari.

"With the mediums, the Ferraris had massive degradation in the first stint. On a normal hot race, I think they'd struggle a little bit more.

"[Instead there were] some clouds at the end so track temperature was dropping," he said. “So I think they got lucky, the hard tyre had less degradation than expected.

"The tailwind was quite random and here in Baku you are always on the edge," he continued. “We put the hard tyre on when the safety car came. It was 38 laps to the end [but] it held on quite okay."

portrait, Helmets, Baku City Circuit, GP2304a, F1, GP, Azerbaijan

© Aston Martin

Overall, Alonso put Aston's hugely improved performance in 2023 down to team work between himself, team mate Lance Stroll, and the rest of the engineers and mechanics working on continually improving the AMR23.

“The job that everyone has done in Aston Martin is extraordinary," he said. "Between Lance and me, we are aware of that. We are trying to help the team as much as we can.

“If we find something on the car that we didn’t spot in the strategy meeting, we try to share it immediately by radio," as evidenced by some very clear data sharing between the drivers over the team radio during today's race.

“At the moment, everything is working perfectly," he boasted. "This is our strength, probably, and that’s why we are second in the constructors’ championship: because we think only of the team.

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Aston Martin F1 Team AMR23.
30.04.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 4, Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Baku Street Circuit, Azerbaijan, Race Day.
-, EMail: © Copyright: Bearne / XPB Images

"We only have to wait a few days before we go racing again, so let’s see what we can do next week in Miami!”

Stroll also had a strong race and finished in seventh, two places up from his grid position at the start despite "not feeling super comfortable" in the car today.

Team principal Mike Krack was delighted by their performances this week. "Full credit to the drivers who did an excellent job to make progress from their starting positions.

"They managed the hard tyres well over a long stint, while maintaining good race pace, and brought the cars home safely to round off a clean weekend.

"That's a good return from quite a challenging event on a very demanding street circuit."

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