Fernando Alonso says his target is to lead the Canadian Grand Prix after qualifying on the front row, admitting it would be “sweet” to get ahead of Max Verstappen.
Verstappen dominated a wet qualifying session and took pole position by a comfortable margin, but it will be an Alpine alongside him as Alonso secured his first front row start in a decade. The Spaniard looked competitive throughout in the wet, and while the race is expected to be dry, he has a quick car in a straight line so the aim is to get ahead of Verstappen on the opening lap.
“The goal is to lead the race on lap 1, so Turn 1 — maximum attack!” Alonso said. “And then after that they can go and they can fight, but it would be sweet to lead the race.
“I’m not sure about the classification right now — who is fourth or fifth and sixth etc. I’m not sure what are the possibilities tomorrow, realistically. I would say the top five is what we should fight for.
“We have a very good starting position but we know our limitations and we’ve seen races where Red Bull or Ferrari are starting last or having a puncture on lap 1 and they still finish with a good margin in front of us. I think the top four places are locked, so fifth is like a win for us and that is probably the spot we should aim for.”
While the conditions might have played into Alonso’s hands on Saturday, the double world champion believes Alpine has done some positive work in terms of its race pace in Canada.
“They [RBR and Ferrari] are in a different league, for sure, and it was not in our wildest dreams to be on pole position, so we will take the first row. That is maybe better than any expectation.
“I think we are still missing a little bit of downforce; a little bit of total grip in the car. We have been working a lot on the tire degradation — a lot of set-up changes — so I think we are better prepared than any other race so far this year. Let’s finish the job tomorrow.
“It’s good to start in the front row. It has been a pretty competitive weekend. The car has kept improving in the last few races with the new parts, but I think that our realistic position is not in the top five. Let’s try to have a clean race, execute a good strategy, good tyre management and score as many points as possible. To think about the win is completely unrealistic.”