Alonso rues Aston Martin’s ‘terrible’ FP1 as he predicts ‘heavily compromised’ race following shock Q1 exit
Fernando Alonso is expecting Aston Martin to face a “heavily compromised” race in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix after the team suffered a double Q1 exit in qualifying, marking the first time that Alonso has failed to progress beyond the opening session in 2023.
Having lost momentum to rivals including Mercedes and Ferrari in recent races, the team brought a new floor for the AMR23 to Austin but struggled to collect crucial data in Friday’s free practice hour, in what will be the sole practice session of another Sprint weekend.
Lance Stroll was forced to spend much of FP1 out of the car due to the squad needing to change parts on the car, while Alonso only completed limited running.
The British outfit’s fortunes did not improve in qualifying, with both drivers failing to make it out of Q1. This leaves Alonso starting Sunday’s Grand Prix in P17, with Stroll on the back row of the grid in P19.
When asked after the session if his early exit was due to not getting a clean lap in, or whether it was in fact the car’s maximum performance, Alonso explained: “No, it was the maximum, I think.
“The lap was not ideal, the out lap especially, the traffic was very badly managed. I think I crossed the line within one second of the limit, so I started the lap too close to the cars in front, so that didn’t help.
“The lap felt okay, and the pace was really not good enough to be into Q2, and let’s see tomorrow if we can make a good Sprint, because Sunday’s race is heavily compromised now.”
The two-time world champion also believes that Aston Martin’s earlier issues in FP1 had a significant impact on their qualifying struggles.
“We should go back and complete the day completely, starting from the morning,” Alonso admitted. “We had a terrible session, Lance didn’t complete any laps, I did only six or seven quality laps with the new package.
“Too many unknowns, in terms of how to operate the package and the new car, so I think we arrived a bit blind into qualifying and obviously we see the result. Nothing we can do now, we are in parc ferme. We [can] use this weekend as a test for next year as well, even if they are painful, so let’s see what we can learn in the remaining sessions.”
On the other side of the garage, Stroll didn’t feel that his lack of running earlier in the day had had a negative impact on his feel for the car in qualifying.
“It didn’t feel like it was a bad session, I think,” the Canadian said. “I actually felt like I was okay in the car and even after no running in FP1, I felt like I got to grips with the car pretty quickly. But yeah, we just weren’t quick enough.”
Despite this, Stroll acknowledged that he was “hoping for more” from the session, though sounded a positive note for the Grand Prix.
“There’s definitely opportunity here on Sunday, so we’ll see what we can do,” he added.