Alonso says 130-lap Friday 'felt great' as he readies for 'very emotional' debut with Aston Martin
Fernando Alonso completed 130 laps at the wheel of the Aston Martin AM23 on Friday in Bahrain – the Spaniard finishing third overall and declaring himself very happy ahead of what he predicted would be an “emotional” race debut for his new team.
Alonso stepped into the car for the whole of Friday, with Lance Stroll absent as he continues to recover from an injury sustained in training. The two-time champion was 0.595s off the pace that was set by Zhou Guanyu with a late flying lap on soft compounds on Day 2 of testing, which also saw George Russell stop on track in his Mercedes W14 as it sprung a hydraulic issue.
“Yeah, it was good,” said Alonso as he unpacked his day. “Obviously, a lot of laps today so it was very much needed, the new car, also for me after a long winter; I did one day in Jerez over the winter with the old car and now today is really the first day with a lot of laps.
“So you learn so many things, and it felt great, so, happy with today.”
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About to embark on his 20th season in F1, the veteran driver – the most experienced on the grid in 2023 – said there was no better physical conditioning than turning the wheel.
“It felt good. It felt good,” he continued, “because obviously you’ve been training for so long over the winter and now you jump in the car and there’s still some muscles that you need to adapt and there is no better training than driving the car. So now I feel fitter and I feel great for the race so it was a good day also in that regard.”
Seeking his 33rd race victory, 99th podium, and third drivers’ championship, the 41-year-old added that starting a new chapter and racing with Aston Martin in 2023 is going to be “very emotional”.
“Only a half day to go tomorrow, tomorrow afternoon,” he said, with reserve driver Felipe Drugovich to drive on Saturday morning before Alonso completes the test, “and we do not feel completely ready.
“Because obviously, we would love to have 10 days testing or 20 days, you know – it’s unlimited the things you can do in the car but yeah, it’s the same for everybody. It’s going to be very emotional for me to be part of Aston Martin for the very first time, and I’m very proud of this team so far.”