Fernando Alonso, the two-time world champion, will begin the Saturday afternoon race at the Red Bull Ring from seventh place on the grid, one spot ahead of his Aston Martin team-mate Lance Stroll. According to Alonso, their one-lap result in qualifying was almost like a miracle given the circumstances. He believes that an extra qualifying shootout for a sprint round and a drying session exposed a flaw in the rules. Typically, drivers are required to use a new set of medium tires in the first and second sessions of qualifying before switching to new or scrubbed softs for the final session. However, morning rain and a declared wet session allowed teams to have freedom in their tire choices.
During the 12-minute first session of qualifying, drivers had to decide between using intermediate, medium, or soft Pirelli compounds. Cooler conditions ultimately favored the more responsive soft tires. However, drivers who had already made it into Q3 during the Friday qualifying session for the grand prix had already used up their allocation of soft tires. This meant that they did not have the advantage of fresh soft tires for Saturday’s qualifying session.
Alonso believes this gave rival teams who underperformed on Friday an unfair advantage. He is calling on the rulemakers to address this loophole in the regulations. Alonso expressed his thoughts on the matter, stating that it was a miracle for both Aston Martin cars to be in the top seven or eight given the rules in place. He mentioned that he understands the requirement to use mediums in dry conditions but expressed dissatisfaction with the current rules for wet sessions.
Alonso hopes that improvements can be made to the sprint format, as this year is being treated as a test to bring about enhancements. He also emphasized that Aston Martin is fighting for a high position in the constructors’ championship and should not be at a disadvantage in qualifying behind theoretically slower teams.
Despite the challenges faced in qualifying, Alonso is optimistic about the sprint race and hopes that all teams will have the same tires. He believes that this will make the race more enjoyable for everyone involved.