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‘Normally we should be P9’ – Alonso praises Aston Martin for maximising ‘small factors’ to finish P6 in Japan

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SUZUKA, JAPAN - APRIL 05: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Aston Martin F1 Team walks in the Paddock

Fernando Alonso was delighted with his drive to P6 in the Japanese Grand Prix, given that – with the Spaniard believing Aston Martin to currently be the “fifth fastest team” – he thinks they should typically be finishing in P9 or P10.

After lining up in P5 on the grid, Alonso looked to have good pace in the early stages of the race on the soft tyre. During his second stint on the medium compound, the two-time world champion was running in sixth and found himself being chased down by Oscar Piastri and George Russell.

READ MORE: Verstappen leads home Perez for Red Bull one-two at Japanese GP after early drama

Alonso allowed Piastri to stay close enough to use DRS, which enabled the McLaren driver to defend from Russell, and this ultimately helped Alonso to hold on to P6 to the chequered flag.

Reflecting on how he felt about the car’s race pace – with this not having been a strong point for the squad so far in 2024 – Alonso said: “I think we were a little bit better than the last few events, but we still need some pace compared to McLaren and Mercedes. Red Bull and Ferrari, they are in another league.

Alonso happy with P6 in Japan – ‘Normally we should be P9’

“We’re still I think [the] fifth fastest team, which [means] normally we should be P9 and P10, and we were P5 in qualifying and P6 in the race, so we definitely maximised the points available and [I’m] happy for that, but we need to still improve the car.”

Aston Martin were running updates at Suzuka, and Alonso feels that the team need more time to analyse the performance of these. However, the 42-year-old praised the British outfit for maximising many factors during the weekend in Japan.

MONDAY MORNING DEBRIEF: Who nailed their strategy in Japan as a hot track saw the top 10 opt for differing tyre calls?

“It is difficult always to compare from track to track [regarding how the new package performed], but I guess we have a lot of data now,” Alonso explained. “After the whole weekend we will analyse everything.

"The team for sure is doing everything right on Sundays – strategy-wise, the start is mega, pit stops today were amazing, and thanks to all those small factors we are finishing sixth instead of ninth or wherever.

“I love to see that but, as I said, fundamentally the pace of the car is still not as good as we want it and we want to improve that.”

Stroll laments lack of straight-line pace in Japan: ‘I had to do my overtaking in Turn 6’

On the other side of the garage, Lance Stroll managed to climb through the field after starting down in P16 on the grid and crossed the line in P12. The Canadian struggled with his pace on the straights, though, and acknowledged after the race that it had been “really tough”.

“We lacked a lot of straight-line speed, so I had to do my overtaking at Turn 6,” Stroll commented. “I couldn’t do it down the main straight in DRS. So yeah, it was a tough race, tough weekend.”

HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the action from the Japanese Grand Prix as Verstappen wins following early red flag

After suggesting following Saturday’s qualifying that he was not yet sure of why he had faced difficulties, Stroll is hopeful that there is more understanding of what to work on following Sunday’s race as attentions now turn to the upcoming Chinese Grand Prix.

“We have some ideas, so hopefully we can have a better weekend in China,” added Stroll.

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