Fernando Alonso believes Aston Martin will be even quicker in qualifying for Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.
Alonso, who is currently enjoying his best start to an F1 season since 2013, was willed on by a bumper crowd in Barcelona as he set the sixth fastest time in FP1 before finishing FP2 second quickest.
The afternoon session caught people’s attention as Alonso was just 0.170 slower than pace setter Max Verstappen.
“It’s so tight at the moment, one or two-tenths will put you in a completely different spot”, said Alonso. “Not paying too much attention to times we went through all of our programme.
“The track is a little bit slower, maybe than we predicted, so there is still more time to find, but it was a productive Friday.
“There is not a new part which [hasn’t] helped with the performance, that’s been the case since Bahrain. Happy with the upgrades and where we are tomorrow when everyone goes full power.”
Enjoying home support from green-clad crowd
With Alonso enjoying an upturn in form, Barcelona has become a sea of green, with Aston Martin running a fan event in association with Peroni in the Port Vell area.
It marked a return to the glory years of Alonso’s career when Barcelona was a sellout, and fans expected a home victory which he duly delivered in 2006 and 2013, the latter being his final F1 win to date.
“Yeah, 67% [of merchandise sales this weekend] is what I heard,” said Alonso. “The grandstand is green, which is amazing.
“This goes back to the 2005-2006-2007 years when everything was in one colour. I really feel that support [and] the special energy of the fan forum this morning [was amazing].
“I could hear them whilst driving. I feel their enthusiasm, so hopefully, we’ll pick up a good result for them.”
Can Aston Martin beat Red Bull?
In the first six races this season, Red Bull dominated proceedings, with Aston Martin picking up best of the rest honours.
But the reigning champions have reasons to be worried in Spain. Alonso is just over a tenth behind Verstappen on a track which got quicker throughout practice.
Unlike Monaco, however, Barcelona’s long straights will make a tow extremely effective, gaining potential lap time.
This puts further pressure on Lance Stroll to end his run of poor qualifying performances, as Aston will need to use the Canadian so Alonso can gain time in sectors 1 and 3.