Alonso ‘a little bit surprised’ by Aston early pace

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Fernando Alonso says he was left “a little bit surprised” by his third-place position in the pecking order after Thursday’s second practice in Bahrain, but insists Aston Martin still needs to find more performance.

Alonso – who had concluded FP1 in fifth position earlier in the day - clocked in just 0.286s behind pacesetter Lewis Hamilton who led a Mercedes 1-2 in second practice.

While satisfied with his running in the more representative evening session, he acknowledged that the results were perhaps hard to interpret given the unknowns related to Aston’s rivals.

“[It] felt okay, obviously we don’t know what the others are doing, we just complete our programme,” he said.

“We know the tyres quite well from the test so we sacrifice FP1 a little bit using the mediums, we concentrated even more on the performance.

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With two softs now in FP2 we learn a little bit from the car, a few set-up changes that we are happy with the result.

“So, let’s see tomorrow when we put everything together in qualifying, same for everybody.”

Asked about Aston prospects for this weekend’s opening race, Alonso said that determining the squad's likely position in the upcoming battle was currently “difficult to read”.

“Definitely I am a little bit surprised that we are a little bit high on the times, but this can change dramatically if the fuel loads are different to everyone else,” the 42-year-old commented.

“I remain calm. I am happy with the set-up changes we did today, I think we still need to find more performance.

“Twelve months ago I would say we were in a stronger position here in Bahrain. Let’s see – I’m happy.

“I’m going into the first qualifying of the season positive, thinking on a very long season so we need to start on the right foot for sure. It is not only Bahrain, we need to look forward also for the next coming event.”

Alonso’s teammate Lance Stroll concluded his day in the top ten, the Canadian setting the eighth fastest lap in FP2.

“I think we made a bit of a step in FP2. [The] car felt pretty good so, yeah, [we’ll] see what we can do tomorrow,” he said.

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