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fernando alonso barceloan FP2 2023 F1

Alonso: Upgrades are working, we’re happy

fernando alonso barceloan FP2 2023 F1

Aston Martin veteran Fernando Alonso was best of the rest at the end of the first day of practice for the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix, only bettered by pace-setting Max Verstappen.

Like in Monaco on Sunday, where Verstappen beat Alonso, today in Spain, the two were the class of FP2. Alonso’s best effort was 0.170s shy of the top time set by the reigning F1 World Champion which has Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and the whole of Spain, in fact, buzzing at the prospect of the 42-year-old local hero winning a Grand Prix for the first time since he last won in F1, 2013 in Spain for Ferrari!

A decade later Alonso is back at the sharp end, but also keen to play down expectations; he said in the Aston Martin team’s Friday report: “It’s so close over one lap that I think a couple of tenths will put you in a completely different position in the classification, so we won’t read too much into the times.

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“We went through our test programme this morning in FP1 and learnt about the prototype tyres, with the track a little slower than we expected. The upgrades we’ve introduced are helping the performance of the car and we are happy with them so far, but let’s see where we are tomorrow when everyone is pushing.

“A lot of the grandstands are green and our Aston Martin merchandise is very popular. The fans have been amazing and it’s great to see their support. Hopefully, we can put on a good show for them,” concluded Alonso.

Stroll apparently continues to struggle way off the pace of his teammate

In the other Aston Martin, Lance Stroll, perhaps hungover by his shocker at the Monaco Grand Prix, continues to be unable to match Alonso’s pace. In FP1, the Canadian was four-tenths down on his teammate. Later at the end of FP2, it had doubled to almost a second. Apparently, the Canadian focused on long runs, perhaps to keep him out of the wall when he tried the fast stuff.

Stroll summed up his Friday in Barcelona: “The focus of today has been running various new test items and evaluating the new Pirelli construction prototype tyres, so that made for a couple of busy sessions on track.

“That’s given us a lot of data to work through tonight and hopefully we can find some more lap time ahead of qualifying as the car wasn’t quite where I wanted it. The field was incredibly tight in both sessions, so we know how important it is to find that pace and we’ll be working hard to do so,” added Stroll, who has yet to beat his new teammate in qualifying or race, in the first six races they have shared a garage.

Alonso’s new-found form has just about everyone hoping he can claim his 33rd victory in F1 on Sunday in front of his home crowd. Now that would be special, but it would mean defeating the man on the moment – Verstappen – who won his first Grand Prix at the venue back in 2016.