Alonso calls Melbourne his 'best qualifying' of 2023 as he starts next to Hamilton for Australian Grand Prix
Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso continued his stellar run of form by qualifying fourth for the 2023 Australian Grand Prix next to former team mate and rival Lewis Hamilton – and the two-time champion said it was his best Saturday yet for Aston Martin.
Alonso qualified fourth in Australia but his best grid slot for Aston Martin was last time out in Saudi Arabia, where he started second as Charles Leclerc was penalised. Despite that, the Aston Martin driver was pleased with his and the team's progress.
"I feel good. Obviously, yeah, it was very tight, within one or two-tenths there were a lot of cars and we were on the upper part of that group in Q1 and Q2 – I think I was P2. And then in Q3, [by] a couple of hundredths we missed the first row of the grid.
"The Mercedes did a very good job, a very good job in Q3, so still probably the best qualifying of the three [races] for us. We were 0.6 [seconds off pole] in Bahrain, 0.5 in Jeddah and here 0.4 [seconds] from pole position, so I think we have to be happy and let’s see tomorrow what we can do," he said.
The two-time champion, who has taken two podiums in his first two appearances for Aston Martin, added that he was confident that his long run pace could help him take another strong result in Australia.
"I feel confident, I feel positive about tomorrow. Our strength is I think the long run pace so we start in the first two rows of the grid and our strengths are on Sundays – let’s use it," he said.
Alonso, however, said he wasn't surprised that Mercedes – who are level with his team in the standings – out-qualified Aston Martin.
"They are always fast – if you read their comments it seems that they have a car that is out of Q3 but it is not that car!" he quipped.
Team mate Lance Stroll, meanwhile, split the Ferraris with P6 on the grid, but the Canadian hinted that he might have left some time on the table.
"Yeah, I mean it was a good effort, I think we are in a good position to fight for tomorrow. Maybe there was a bit more lap time in it but it’s really tight if you look at the times," he said.
"For sure I was pretty happy with the long run we did in FP3 so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. It’s a long race," concluded Stroll.
Aston Martin and Mercedes are level on 38 points ahead of tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix, where Max Verstappen starts on pole and seeks his first win at Albert Park.