Fernando Alonso has expressed doubt about his chances of securing his first pole position since the 2012 German Grand Prix after finishing first in practice for the opening race of the 2023 season in Bahrain. He set a series of lap times during the second practice session, including times over longer runs with heavier fuel loads, suggesting that Aston Martin has strong race pace. Alonso remained cautious about the outcome, saying that he is not sure what a good position would be for his team. He is instead focusing on improving his team’s prospects during the first few races of the season while aiming at eventually fighting for the championship in the long term.
Alonso admitted that he was still tinkering with the car’s setup while being cautious about the layout of the Bahrain International Circuit, which he felt could be hiding weaknesses that may be exposed at other circuits. He expects the first three races, which will take place in Bahrain, Jeddah, and Australia, to be different challenges. Still, Alonso remained optimistic that his team is competitive, with teammate Lance Stroll setting the sixth-fastest lap time despite missing preseason testing with a broken wrist. Stroll took part in practice with two pins in his wrist after surgery last week, covering his hand at times during the practice session.
“I was just protecting it; it feels a little more comfortable,” Stroll said. “I feel like I can definitely drive, no problem.” Alonso emphasized that the team has plenty of room for improvement, especially since the balance of the car was not entirely perfect during the tests. He urged caution, saying that his team needed to grow together in this process, fighting for positions higher than 12th or 14th while keeping their feet on the ground. He does not believe that his team will be fighting for the championship this year yet, adding that there are still many things to improve in the car and team.