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Alonso expects Aston Martin to be ‘one of the candidates’ for Monaco pole after ‘fun’ Friday

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 26: Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) Aston Martin AMR23 Mercedes

Fernando Alonso believes Aston Martin will be in contention for pole position come Saturday after a “fun” first day of running in Monaco, with both the Spaniard and his team mate Lance Stroll feeling confident behind the wheel of the AMR23.

Alonso enjoyed a strong outing on Friday, trading fastest lap times with Carlos Sainz in FP1, as he ended the session in second, before setting the fourth quickest time in the qualifying simulation runs in second practice.

READ MORE: Hamilton hails ‘amazing day’ in Monaco as Mercedes get first glimpse of upgraded W14 out on track

Reflecting on his day after jumping out of cockpit on Friday evening, Alonso – a two-time winner in Monte Carlo – said: “It was good. It was a good day for us, I think. We completed the run programme.

“A couple of red flags that were the same for everybody, but we did enough laps to get confidence with the car, which is very important here – getting into the rhythm of the weekend. The car felt good, easy to drive, which is what you would expect in this kind of circuit, so I’m happy.

“I came with a lot of confidence already because this car gave me positive things all throughout the year, so it didn’t disappoint today; it was enjoyable to drive, I had fun and I’m ready for tomorrow.”

2023 Monaco GP FP2: ‘I’m speechless with these guys’ – Alonso furious at traffic on quick lap in Monaco

Aston Martin come into Monaco second in the constructors’ championship with 102 points – six points more than rivals Mercedes who have brought an upgraded car this weekend, and Alonso was very wary of the Silver Arrows’ pace.

“I think they were always there,” said Alonso, when asked about Mercedes’ pace. “In race three, Australia, they were outstanding. They finished P2, so I think it’s going to be all through the season up and downs for everybody.

FP2: Verstappen leads Leclerc while Sainz crashes during ultra-close second practice in Monaco

“We just have to be consistent, try to deliver every weekend, maximising the points available knowing and accepting that sometimes we will be quicker than them, sometimes slower, and we still need to make points.”

Asked whether he could be on for his first pole position of the season, Alonso responded: “Let’s see. I think tomorrow, everything is to play [for] but we should be one of the candidates, yes.”

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 26: Lance Stroll of Canada driving the (18) Aston Martin AMR23 Mercedes

Stroll is looking to make a few tweaks to his car ahead of qualifying on Saturday

Team mate Stroll was ninth fastest in FP1, before setting the 11th quickest time in the second hour of running, and while the Canadian is happy with the performance of the car, he believes there are few things they will need to address overnight.

“It’s always tricky here with traffic; it’s a short lap and it’s always tricky but we got some good running in today and learnt a lot,” said Stroll. “We’ll keep working on the car for tonight and see what we can do tomorrow.

AS IT HAPPENED: Follow all the action from second practice for the Monaco Grand Prix

“The car is working well here. It’s definitely behaving well, and I think it’s about tweaking the last few things overnight and seeing what we can do tomorrow.

When asked if a top three spot was on the cards for qualifying, Stroll said: “It’s been tight all year really and I think it’s just, like I said, tuning a few little bits and piecing it all together as well. Staying out of traffic is super important, getting good out-laps, all those kind of things around here make a difference.”

He later added: “Just the out-lap without traffic, and then the middle sector is, I think, penalising when you have a car close to you. Just going off line and stuff, picking up dirt. All those things make a difference around here.”

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