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Alonso hails ‘another good start’ for Aston Martin in Saudi Arabia as Stroll wary of ‘surprise’ rival

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JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 17: Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) Aston Martin AMR23

Fernando Alonso declared the situation “so far, so good” for Aston Martin in Saudi Arabia as the team look to follow up their spectacular start to the season with another strong result.

Alonso and Aston Martin built on their testing promise to turn a third row grid slot into a podium finish at the Bahrain opener, with the AMR23 seemingly a significant step forward over its predecessor.

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After another high-flying practice performance at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, which saw Alonso split the Red Bull drivers in FP2, the Spaniard offered a cautiously optimistic assessment of Aston Martin’s chances for round two.

Asked about the prospect of being the second-fastest team this weekend, Alonso said: “Yeah, let’s see. I think Friday is always not very representative. Also in Bahrain we were okay, like P1 on Friday, then P5, nearly P6 in qualifying. You never know until we go to qualifying.

“We tested what we wanted to test in the car. I think it’s still not an ideal balance, so we still need to chase a little bit of grip tonight. But so far, so good – it’s another good start.”

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 17: Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) Aston Martin AMR23

Alonso will be looking to add another trophy to his cabinet this weekend after finishing on the podium in Bahrain

Pushed on exactly where Aston Martin sit in the pecking order, he continued: “I have no idea. I just drive the car and in qualifying I see where I am.

“Obviously there are a lot of free practices, days between races, a lot of data to analyse, and a lot of predictions and estimations for your guys [the media] to do, so that’s the beauty of Formula 1 as well.”

TECH TUESDAY: Why a closer look at the Aston Martin AMR23 reveals an inspired – and original – design

Alonso’s team mate, Lance Stroll, ended the day seventh on the timesheets in FP2, taking note of the apparent upturn in pace displayed by Alpine – Esteban Ocon placing fourth and Pierre Gasly sixth in the two temporarily pink machines.

“It looks pretty tight,” said Stroll. “Alpine look quick, so I think it’s going to be close – it was a surprise to see them so quick. The Ferraris, I’m sure, will be there tomorrow, and even the Mercedes looks pretty good, so we’ll see.”

As for how his wrists and feet are recovering after his pre-season training crash, the Canadian added: “Yeah, it felt okay. Still a bit of pain, but nothing bad.”

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