Fernando Alonso says Aston Martin can take great encouragement from the fact he nearly finished on the podium in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix despite feeling the team had a bad weekend,
Sergio Perez led home a Red Bull one-two in a race where the two leaders were pushing, leaving Alonso to fight it out with polesitter Charles Leclerc for third place. Leclerc held on by a second on the final lap to end Alonso’s run of consecutive podiums but given how well Ferrari’s weekend panned out the Spaniard says it’s a further statement from Aston to be so close in the race.
“Yeah it was very good, I’m very happy with the result and the pace of the car,” Alonso said. “I think the weekend was not maybe as competitive as the first three races but even with that I think in the race the car pace was very good, very strong, and we challenged for the podium. Only one second to Charles, so that’s very encouraging for us.
“On let’s say a bad weekend from Aston we are fighting for the podium against one of the best weekends for Ferrari – they were on pole position for the Sprint race, pole position for the main race, and they were just one second in front of us on Sunday, so good news.”
In a race where there was little in the way of action, Alonso did provide a highlight when overtaking Carlos Sainz into Turn 4 – not a traditional passing spot – after the early safety car.
“I had a lot of grip on that restart so I could have him probably in Turn 3 already but then it was into Turn 4. I don’t know, no clear explanation but the car was working really well.
“It was good. It was crucial because to overtake the Ferraris is never easy, so that overtake put me in a train with Charles and the race was easier after that.”
After suffering DRS issues earlier in the weekend, Alonso says he had no such problems during Sunday’s race but, despite the pass on Sainz, he feels his cause wasn’t helped by the timing of that safety car negating Aston Martin’s advantage over Leclerc.
“(DRS) worked, a lot of speed! I’ve never been that fast on the straight for the whole weekend! So I was happy with everything on the car.
“The strength of the car for whatever reason is still the tire degradation that seems a little bit better than the others, unfortunately with the safety car we all put on the hard tires and that tire was very robust until the end. Without that safety car I think the Ferraris were struggling a lot in the first stint, so maybe Miami is a better chance for us.”