Alonso throws shade at rivals, predicts more Red Bull dominance


While F1 pre-season testing often carries a disclaimer of "wait and see," Fernando Alonso believes only one driver has a shot at the 2024 championship: reigning champion Max Verstappen.

The Spaniard acknowledged Aston Martin improvements progress over the winter. However, he tempered expectations, citing the advancements made by rival teams, and the “surprising” step forward enjoyed by Red Bull in particular.

The Spaniard specifically pointed to the RB20's bold new design and to Verstappen’s performance on the opening day of testing as evidence of the team’s likely extended dominance.

This, coupled with Verstappen's already-established prowess, led Alonso to conclude that the championship battle is all but settled.

“I don't have a crystal ball to know what the others are doing,” commented the F1 veteran.

“I think Max is the world champion and Red Bull is dominating the sport. Also, the concept that they presented this year, it's also a surprise.

“At the moment, we just have to watch them and see how they perform.

“I think 19 drivers in the paddock now will think that [they] will not win the championship. It happens 99% of the time in your career. This is a brutal sport.”

Alonso wasn’t the only driver in Bahrain left with an ominous feeling by Red Bull’s early momentum.

"I think Red Bull clearly are out in the distance," commented seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, an opinion echoed by his teammate George Russell.

“Red Bull are the favourites and definitely a step ahead of everyone else,” he said. “That was to be expected.”

And McLaren’s Lando Norris followed suit: "I think we're in a good position, we had a decent car at the end of last season and I think we've definitely taken some steps in the right direction but we're still a very long way behind Red Bull and a long way behind Ferrari.”

Standard disclaimers apply when judging a team’s performance in pre-season testing, although a strong display at the outset is often a glimpse into future strength.

However, assessing Aston Martin’s early form and whether Team Silverstone has a potentially winning car on its hands, Alonso quickly circled back to Red Bull.

"I think it's difficult to tell now,” he said. “I would say, I think after seeing Max and the Red Bull car this year, there are less chances for everybody to win a race this year. But this is how it is.”

At 42, the forever-young Alonso was recently given a clean bill of health by his physician, but the F1 veteran noted that a strong body and mind alone won’t bring him race wins.

"I was super fit, happy and motivated in [2015] and I scored 11 points [finishing 17th in the championship]. So, this sport is not always what you feel or what you do.”

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