'Unreal' to be fighting with Ferrari and Mercedes - Alonso

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'Unreal' to be fighting with Ferrari and Mercedes - Alonso

Formula 1

'Unreal' to be fighting with Ferrari and Mercedes - Alonso


Fernando Alonso says Aston Martin’s level of competitiveness “seems a little bit unreal” after beating both Mercedes cars in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Pre-season testing appeared to show Aston Martin as the most competitive of last year’s midfield teams, before Alonso was quick throughout practice — topping FP2 and FP3 — raising expectations around the team. Alonso duly delivered with fifth on the grid ahead of the Mercedes drivers and was only 0.4s off pole-sitter Max Verstappen after the first Q3 runs, leaving the Spaniard finally believing the step forward that Aston has made.

“It was amazing,” Alonso said. “The whole weekend has been unreal for us. It was like too good to be true, every session and every performance of the car. In qualifying our expectation was to be around half of a second from Red Bull… I think we are half a second or sixth-tenths from Red Bull. So it was quite right.

“I don’t know what to say because eight months ago the project was just a bet but now to be — race one with a completely new car which I think we still need to unlock a lot of potential to be in the top five — fighting with Ferrari and Mercedes, it seems a little bit unreal. But we’ll take it for sure.

“In practice we knew we were around third, fifth, or fourth. We didn’t know what exactly Ferrari was doing. We knew for sure we were behind Red Bull, but it was always a couple of milliseconds in front so the position looked too good!

“But I think now there is not much more to downplay anything, because this is qualifying, all the same positions and we are in the mix with Ferrari and Mercedes. Again, unreal.”

Alonso admits the race pace Aston Martin has been showing means his target for Sunday has to be to finish on the podium, with Ferrari struggling more over long runs in FP2.

“We thought to be honest that the first three teams were untouchable this year with the advantage they had last year,” he continued. “Maybe try to lead the midfield or mix in the midfield…now we are saying we start P5 and maybe we fight with the Ferraris for the podium. This is just incredible. Let’s keep working, keep feet on the ground and execute the race in the best way possible, no mistakes, good start, good pit stops, let’s see where we are. But yeah, right now we are living a dream.”

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