Sunday, May 19, 2024

Fernando Alonso: “The upgrades we’ve introduced are helping the performance of the car”

Fernando Alonso says it is too early to take anything away from the timing screens at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, despite the Spaniard ending second fastest overall to Max Verstappen.

The Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula 1 Team driver, who has scored podiums in five of the opening six races of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season, ended sixth fastest in the first session on Friday before improving in the second, ending just under two-tenths back on championship leader Verstappen.

Alonso feels Aston Martin’s recent updates to the AMR23 have helped the performance of the car, and he is keen to see where they will end up during Saturday’s Qualifying session amongst a field that appears to be extremely closely matched.

“It’s so close over one lap that I think a couple of tenths will put you in a completely different position in the classification, so we won’t read too much into the times,” said Alonso.  “We went through our test programme this morning in Free Practice One and learnt about the prototype tyres, with the track a little slower than we expected.

“The upgrades we’ve introduced are helping the performance of the car and we are happy with them so far, but let’s see where we are tomorrow when everyone is pushing.”

Alonso was pleased to see a sea of green on Friday as the Spanish fans came out to support their hero, and he hopes to be able to reward them with a good performance across the remainder of the weekend.

“A lot of the grandstands are green and our Aston Martin merchandise is very popular,” he said.  “The fans have been amazing and it’s great to see their support.

“Hopefully we can put on a good show for them tomorrow.”  

“The car wasn’t quite where I wanted it” – Lance Stroll

Team-mate Lance Stroll had a less successful day in Spain, the Canadian unable to better fifteenth in either session as he felt the car was not where it needed to be.

Stroll was only fifteenth in the opening hour of practice and eighteenth in the second, his time almost a second down on Alonso, and he knows that he will need to find some time overnight if he is to bring himself into contention for a position inside the top ten in Qualifying.

“The focus of today has been running various new test items and evaluating the new Pirelli construction prototype tyres, so that made for a couple of busy sessions on track,” said Stroll.

“That’s given us a lot of data to work through tonight and hopefully we can find some more lap time ahead of qualifying as the car wasn’t quite where I wanted it.

“The field was incredibly tight in both sessions, so we know how important it is to find that pace and we’ll be working hard to do so.”

Lance Stroll was well adrift of team-mate Alonso in both Friday sessions – Credit: Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula 1 Team