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‘We need to improve’ – Alonso rues ‘very difficult’ weekend for Aston Martin in Australia

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 22: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Aston Martin F1 Team walks in the

Fernando Alonso reflected on a “very difficult” weekend at the Australian Grand Prix for the Aston Martin team, with the Spaniard admitting that they had struggled for pace despite ultimately scoring a double-points finish.

Alonso made ground during the race after starting from P10 on the grid and was running in P6 as the event reached its latter stages, though faced pressure from a chasing George Russell behind. After getting close to Alonso on the penultimate lap, Russell lost control of his Mercedes and crashed out of the running.

READ MORE: Russell and Alonso offer opposing views on incident that led to crash in Australian Grand Prix

Both Alonso and Russell were later summoned to the stewards, with Alonso subsequently being handed a drive through penalty – converted to 20 seconds being added to his race time – as well as three penalty points for what was deemed to be “potentially dangerous” driving.

This dropped the two-time world champion from P6 to P8 in the final classification. Speaking before the penalty had been given, Alonso acknowledged that the weekend had generally not been entirely smooth throughout.

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Alonso pleased with points after ‘very difficult weekend in terms of pace’ for Aston Martin

Asked if he was pleased with his performance, the 42-year-old said: “Yeah, it was obviously a very difficult weekend for us in terms of pace.

“The race, we were lucky with the [Virtual] Safety Car at the beginning with Lewis [Hamilton], and then the pit stops were great as well, so thanks to the strategy and a little bit of luck obviously we maximised the points. But we cannot forget that the pace was difficult the whole weekend.”

EXPLAINED: He made no contact with Russell – so why did Alonso cop a 20-second penalty for his part in the crash?

On whether the issues had been track dependent, Alonso answered: “I don’t know, we need to understand more. Last year also was a little bit down, Australia, comparing the other race, so we need to improve.”

Despite the pace problems, Aston Martin still saw both drivers come home with points. Lance Stroll gained a position early on from his original starting place of P9 and, after a relatively quiet race, ended the day in P7, which later became P6 thanks to his team mate’s penalty.

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Stroll pleased to pick up points after ‘pretty lonely race’

“It was a pretty lonely race,” Stroll commented afterwards. “But good to pick up some points.”

Quizzed on whether the result had been the maximum based on the car’s current level of performance, the Canadian responded: “I think so, yeah.”

READ MORE: Sainz storms to victory amid drama in Australia as Verstappen retires and Russell crashes out

With Mercedes scoring no points in Melbourne given the retirements of both Hamilton and Russell, Aston Martin had initially put themselves ahead of the Silver Arrows in the fight for fourth place of the constructors’ championship, but Alonso’s penalty later saw them slip back to fifth on 25 points.

Speaking after the penalty had been announced, Aston Martin Team Principal Mike Krack sounded a positive note about the team's performance.

“A strong race in Albert Park today and we have scored 12 championship points. Full credit to both drivers, who converted our grid positions into points, making use of two very different tyre strategies," he said.

“Lance has driven well all weekend and carried that form through to the chequered flag. Fernando's race benefitted from the Virtual Safety Car – it was surprising to see him drop to P8 with the post-race penalty, but we have to accept the decision. This will not distract from a positive day. The calls from the pit wall were spot on and operationally the whole team has been excellent.”

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