Alonso highlights importance of development race for Aston Martin as they 'need to overcome this deficit’

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 28: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Aston Martin F1 Team looks on in the

Fernando Alonso has emphasized how important the development race will be for Aston Martin this season as the squad look to be “a top team also off-track.”

The Silverstone-based outfit scored three points in the opening race of 2024 in Bahrain as Alonso finished ninth while team mate Lance Stroll came home a place behind in 10th.

It was a marked difference from the Bahrain Grand Prix a year ago where Alonso made the podium as the team’s car established itself as the next best behind Red Bull’s RB19 in the initial stages of the 2023 campaign.

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However, as the season wore on their car was out-developed by other rivals. McLaren most notably enjoyed a dramatic change in fortunes and would go on to overtake Aston Martin in the constructors’ championship – finishing fourth while Aston Martin would have to settle for fifth.

Following their finish at the Bahrain Grand Prix this time around, Alonso believed the squad’s standing in the team pecking order hadn’t changed despite a promising showing in Friday’s qualifying.

Alonso pinpoints Aston Martin’s place in the pecking order after season opener

“I think we were not as fast as yesterday for sure,” said the two-time world champion. “I think the lap was exceptional yesterday and put us in an unrealistic P6 that was not our real position.

“But yeah, we are the fifth team at the moment behind McLaren, Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari – more or less as we were in Abu Dhabi so we have kept where we finished in 2023.

“Now it is a long championship, we need to overcome this deficit and try to be in the mix so very interesting weeks ahead.”

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With their inability to keep pace with rival teams' developments last season, that has become one of the key aims for Aston Martin in 2024, with Alonso keen to single out that target after the race in Sakhir.

“Last year we started with a very good baseline, we were not strong enough as a team to keep up with the progress the top teams were making during the season,” he added.

“This year we want to change that, and be a top team also off-track with the development race and let’s see what we can do.”

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) Aston Martin AMR24 Mercedes

Alonso and Aston Martin are hoping they can improve on their returns in the development race in 2024

For Alonso’s team mate Stroll, his 10th-placed finish came in challenging circumstances after being tapped and spun around by Haas’s Nico Hulkenberg in Turn 1 at the start. That dropped the Canadian to 19th before he expertly clawed his way back up the order to secure a points-paying position.

“Yeah, for sure it was a good recovery and after a good start, which was annoying,” he said after the race. “Got off the line well, got a couple of positions and, yeah, a thump from behind and back of the pack.

“So to climb back up to 10th and score points was satisfying for sure.”

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