Alonso: Aston back to ‘normal’ in Bahrain GP after qualifying high


Fernando Alonso says his ninth-place finish in the Bahrain Grand Prix was a proper reflection of Aston Martin’s current performance level relative to its rivals after qualifying flattered the potential of its AMR24 car.

In Friday’s shootout at Sakhir, an impressive final effort by Alonso in Q3 had positioned the Spaniard P6, but just 0.363 seconds behind poleman max Verstappen, with a little over half a second covering the top nine reflecting the tightness of the field.

On race day, Alonso gradually slipped down the order to spend most of his evening just inside the top ten while Aston teammate Lance Stroll, who suffered the misfortune of being punted into a spin at the first corner, chased from behind to recover and the claim the final point of the race.

"Today I think is exactly what we expected," the two-time world champion said. "Our simulations were saying that we were around P9 with not much fight in front of us, the top four teams a little bit with too much ahead, and with comfortable gap behind.

"And it's exactly like that. I think I had [Oscar Piastri's] McLaren 18 seconds ahead and the Sauber [of Zhou Guanyu in 11th] 28 seconds behind. So, we were in the middle of no one's race."

While recognizing Aston’s lack of pace in race trim, Alonso was particularly intrigued to understand the reasons behind its impressive performance in qualifying.

"We are lacking pace for sure,” he added. “Yesterday's laps are something to study – why we were so fast. So, I think the race was normal. What was exceptional was yesterday's lap.

"[The car] is better. We did improve the top speed, we did improve the fast corners. Obviously, we made some sacrifices in the low-speed stuff."

Aston team principal Mike Krack was also puzzled by the strength of the team’s AMR24 in qualifying versus its performance on race day, especially as pre-season testing had suggested the opposite.

"This is something we really need to analyse, because obviously you want both," Krack said.

"And in the test, it looked a little bit the opposite. In qualifying we were much, much closer than we really thought. Today was a little bit more what we had expected.

"We need to form this picture with the tracks that are coming, but certainly we were not in a position to challenge the [teams ahead]."

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