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‘We’re not giving up’ – Alonso ‘proud’ of Aston Martin after taking P3 in qualifying for Chinese Grand Prix

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 20: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Aston Martin F1 Team walks in parc ferme

Fernando Alonso was thrilled to claim P3 on the grid during qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix, with the Spaniard bouncing back from a disappointing outcome to his Sprint race earlier in the day.

After being forced to retire from the Sprint following a puncture sustained during a battle with Carlos Sainz – for which Alonso was later handed a 10-second time penalty along with three penalty points – the Aston Martin driver seemed raring to go again when it came to qualifying.

READ MORE: Verstappen seals pole position for Chinese Grand Prix as he heads Perez and Alonso

Alonso remained near the top of the timesheets throughout the session and found himself in a fierce battle for P2 in the final moments of Q3. While Sergio Perez ultimately claimed the position on the front row, Alonso held onto third place, putting himself ahead of the McLarens of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.

Asked after the session if he had felt that more was possible on his final lap, the two-time world champion reflected: “Yeah, I don’t know how far [ahead] Checo is, but in Sector 1 I had a moment in Turn 1 and 2, I nearly lost the car and then I said, ‘Okay, I keep going or abort the lap?’, because I lost like two-tenths in two corners.

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 20: Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) Aston Martin AMR24 Mercedes

Alonso bounced back from a disappointing Sprint race to claim P3 in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix

“We didn’t give up, we kept pushing all through the lap and we set a good lap time. I think the car did improve since this morning, we made a few set-up changes, and let’s see tomorrow if we can translate that into points.”

Teams are now allowed to make changes to their cars after the Sprint and prior to qualifying in line with new parc ferme rules. On whether this proved particularly beneficial for him, Alonso said: “I think it’s the same for everybody.

HIGHLIGHTS: Relive the action from qualifying in China as Verstappen grabs pole and Sainz crashes

“You cannot change the car completely, because you are into the rhythm of the weekend, but you can still make some small set-up changes. Some of them are just for balance problems, but some of them are just guesses that you do into tomorrow’s race – you flip the coin.”

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 20: Second placed qualifier Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull

Alonso was beaten to P2 by Perez after a close battle in the final moments of Q3

While he remains uncertain about what kind of result he can expect on Sunday, Alonso hailed his Aston Martin team for continuing to push forwards in the battle with their rivals.

“I think tomorrow afternoon we will not know the answer, but I’m extremely happy and proud of the team,” he added. “We’re not giving up, we’re not in the position we want yet, but we keep pushing.”

READ MORE: ‘It’s probably my last contract’ – Alonso reflects on new Aston Martin deal as he predicts ‘things are in place’ to become a ‘powerful team’

On the other side of the garage, Lance Stroll exited in Q2 after being pushed down the order, with the Canadian set to start Sunday’s race from P11.

It was later confirmed after the session that Aston Martin had lodged a protest of the results, citing an alleged breach of Article 39.6 of the sporting regulations which states that: "Any driver whose car stops on the track during the qualifying session or the sprint shootout will not be permitted to take any further part in that session."

Sainz had brought out the red flags during Q2 after spinning into the final corner and making contact with the barriers. His Ferrari stopped on track, before the Spaniard was then able to make his way back to the pits and rejoin the session.

Following the stewards' hearing, the protest was dismissed, with the stewards finding that the decision taken by Race Control was not inconsistent with past practice nor in breach of Article 39.6.

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