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Alonso unsure of Aston Martin’s position after being left ‘a bit surprised’ by lap times

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 29: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Aston Martin F1 Team talks to the

Fernando Alonso was left “happy” – and a little surprised – with Aston Martin’s performance in Thursday practice at the Bahrain Grand Prix, with the Spaniard ending the second session in third place on the timesheets.

While Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time of the day, Alonso was just two tenths away in P3 and only eight hundredths of a second back from George Russell in P2. The two-time world champion also finished the opening practice hour in fifth position.

READ MORE: FP2: Hamilton fastest from Russell as Mercedes set the pace in second practice in Bahrain

Asked after FP2 how things had felt in the more representative conditions of the evening, Alonso responded: “[It] felt okay, obviously we don’t know what the others are doing, we just complete our programme.

“We know the tyres quite well from the test so we sacrifice FP1 a little bit using the mediums, we concentrated even more on the performance. With two softs now in FP2 we learn a little bit from the car, a few set-up changes that we are happy with the result.

Alonso warns Aston Martin ‘need to find more performance’ despite going third in FP2

“So, let’s see tomorrow when we put everything together in qualifying, same for everybody.”

After starting the 2023 season on a strong note, Aston Martin experienced a drop-off in form during the campaign, seeing them end the year behind Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren in the constructors’ championship.

HIGHLIGHTS: Catch the FP2 action as Hamilton leads the way for Mercedes

In terms of where in the battle the squad could find themselves this weekend, Alonso said that this was currently “difficult to read”.

“Definitely I am a little bit surprised that we are a little bit high on the times, but this can change dramatically if the fuel loads are different to everyone else,” the 42-year-old commented. “I remain calm. I am happy with the set-up changes we did today, I think we still need to find more performance.

Stroll: Aston Martin’s new car ‘felt good… but it’s early days’

“Twelve months ago I would say we were in a stronger position here in Bahrain. Let’s see – I’m happy. I’m going into the first qualifying of the season positive, thinking on a very long season so we need to start on the right foot for sure. It is not only Bahrain, we need to look forward also for the next coming event.”

Alonso’s team mate Lance Stroll also ended Thursday within the top 10, finishing FP2 in eighth place.

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

Speaking afterwards, the Canadian said: “I think we made a bit of a step in FP2. [The] car felt pretty good so, yeah, [we’ll] see what we can do tomorrow.”

The cars will return to action on Friday for the third and final practice session at 1530 local time, before the first qualifying session of 2024 follows at 1900 local time.

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