Fernando Alonso says he thinks Aston Martin will be candidates to clinch pole position in tomorrow's qualifying session for the Monaco Grand Prix in Monte Carlo.
Alonso was second quickest in the first practice session on Friday and was in the top four in the second session just 0.220s slower than pace setter Max Verstappen in the Red Bull.
Alonso believe that the AMR23 is better suited to the unique nature of the street circuit, and that it should put them on the same footing as both Red Bull and Ferrari when it comes to qualifying.
"The car felt good, easy to drive, which is what you would expect in this kind of circuit, so I’m happy," he declared after the end of the first day's track activity.
“I came with a lot of confidence already because this car gave me positive things all throughout the year," he said. "It didn’t disappoint today: it was enjoyable to drive, I had fun and I’m ready for tomorrow.
"[We had] a couple of red flags that were the same for everybody, but we did enough laps to get confidence with the car which is very important here – getting into the rhythm of the weekend."
Aston Martin is currently running in second place to Red Bull in the constructors' championship, with Alonso having finished on the podium in four of the first five races of the season.
"They [Red Bull] are better than everyone else," he conceded. "They did a better job, they are dominating the season and they deserve it.
“For us it is just a gift what we are achieving at the moment, we didn’t expect to be in this position, so we are enjoying every weekend.
“There are couple of weekends like this one that I come here thinking that I will try to win," he added. "The championship is long and we will not give up.”
While Red Bull is romping away at the front, Aston Martin is locked in a tight battle with Mercedes and Ferrari. The Silver Arrows are just six points behind Aston coming into this weekend.
"They were always there,” Alonso said when asked about the growing threat from Brackley. "They were outstanding [in Australia]. They finished P2, so I think it’s going to be all through the season up and downs for everybody.
"Ferrari was outstanding in Baku, we could see another great weekend for them here, but then if I tell you that I don’t come here thinking that I can win the race I would be lying to you.
“We just have to be consistent," opined Alonso. "Try to deliver every weekend, maximising the points available knowing and accepting that sometimes we will be quicker than them, sometimes slower, and we still need to make points.”
But the question remains whether Monaco's iconic street circuit will give Alonso the extra edge needed to achieve a true breakthrough - a pole on Saturday perhaps, and potentially an outright race win on Sunday.
"I think tomorrow, everything is to play [for] but we should be one of the candidates, yes," he insisted.
“We are not thinking we are the strongest in Monaco, I don’t think it’s going to be a huge change compared to Baku which is still a street circuit," he added. "I think the same as any other race, to be honest.
"This is a one-off opportunity," he added. "There are specific race tracks where you need to gain the confidence in free practice, get closer and closer to the walls, and I will attack more than any other weekend, yes.
"Maybe it’s our worst weekend and we are out of the points – you never know, it is a very specific circuit – but there are these kind of one-off opportunities that you try to maximize."
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