Fernando Alonso played down Aston Martin‘s chances at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, and said they’re not aiming for a podium.
Aston Martin were the talk of the paddock after a stunning pre-season testing, as Alonso completed a blisteringly quick race sim that was only matched by Red Bull.
However, despite several questions from journalists on whether he was aiming for the podium, Alonso refused to talk up his team’s chances.
“We will give our best on the race,” Alonso told the media. “But that’s not the target for us to be honest. It was very encouraging the results from the test and the feeling from the car, but it is just the start.
“I think we need to keep learning about the car, only one day and a half or two days of testing in a completely new car, new package.”
Alonso will be competing alongside Lance Stroll, after Aston Martin confirmed the Canadian would race in Bahrain despite injuries sustained in a cycling accident prior to testing.
2022 Formula 2 champion Felipe Drugovich took his place for testing and was expected to fill in for the Bahrain GP too, but the team said while Drugovich and fellow reserve Stoffel Vandoorne would be in the paddock, they expected Stroll to compete.
Alonso has no idea of competitive pecking order
After the test, Alonso told reporters his team was faster than Ferrari, but he didn’t display the same bullishness ahead of the first race of the 2023 Formula 1 season.
It seems to many onlookers that Aston Martin approach the weekend with the third-fastest car and will be battling Ferrari and Mercedes behind Red Bull but the second and third best teams from 2022 also have question marks over their true performance.
However, Aston Martin do seem confident they’ve at least taken a step forward from their seventh-placed finishes in 2021 and 2022 and risen to the top of the midfield.
“I have no idea where are we in terms of position,” Alonso added. “But with this car, the aim was to make a step forward, which I think we did.
“This car will change dramatically during the season, I heard from the team that two-thirds from this car will change in the season.
“So you know we want to have a good baseline a good platform to develop the car during the 2023 and maybe fight for something bigger next year, but step by step.”