The two-time world champion claimed his first podium since the 2021 Qatar Grand Prix when he finished third behind Max Verstappen and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez in Sunday’s F1 season opener in Bahrain.
Perhaps most impressive about his ‘unreal’ result is that it was achieved in his first race with the Aston Martin team, which finished seventh in the Constructors’ Championship last year.
While F1 teams regularly speak of it taking years to get up front and work your way to the front of the grid, Aston Martin’s dramatic leap forward over a winter has surprised many.
Alonso believes the explanation for the Silverstone team’s dramatic progress is simply the passion of team owner Lawrence Stroll and an attitude within the team that is only concerned with success.
“I think you have to have the vision and ambition of Lawrence Stroll or our leadership and management because the opportunities are for everyone,” said the former Alpine rider.
“But it seems only one team is willing to do whatever it takes to win. And I am proud to be part of this organization.”
Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin F1 Team, The Aston Martin Team celebrates after a podium finish
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
Alonso’s surprising podium in Bahrain proved that the pace Aston Martin showed in pre-season testing was real. And with podium rivals Mercedes and Ferrari appearing less than happy with their cars’ tire degradation, Alonso may have further chances of success.
Although race winner Red Bull was in a class of its own in the season opener, Alonso is confident that given his car’s potential he can aim for a win this year.
When asked if he thinks he can win a race, Alonso said: “Yes. I would say yes because if you are P3 in the first race you have 22 possibilities this season.
“I remember last year in Canada we were on the front row of the grid in wet qualifying. You know, anything can happen in 22 races with different conditions. And you know I’ll do my best to have the opportunity.
“Maybe we need help. Last year we needed some help from the top teams just to get on the podium.
“But maybe it’s this year when there’s that help, or some retirements in front of us, or some problems, maybe more than a podium. So let’s hope for that.”
Aston Martin was the second fastest car in race trim at Bahrain behind Red Bull, although Ferrari seems to have a slight advantage in qualifying as they are much closer to the top over a single lap.
But considering Aston Martin’s main opponents are in their second year of concepts, Alonso sees every reason to believe the team can bring in decent developments to make it faster.
“There are a couple of areas that we need to improve that I won’t share,” he said.
Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23, crosses the finish line and takes 3rd place
Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
“But I think the most important point is that the new Aston Martin is just a new car, a new project. This is just the beginning.
“This is not the last car, this is just the start car of this concept that we changed over the winter. I think some of the top teams just kept the philosophy they had last year.
“Red Bull or Ferrari tended to keep the same shapes. Just fine tuning things and perfecting that good baseline they had.
“It was much more difficult for us. We have to change 95% of the car.
“I think there is more to learn from the car and more to come from our end. So full confidence in our team, obviously they know what they are doing. So hopefully let’s get better soon.”