A shame because the hype ahead of Alonso’s home race has been intense, Spain galvanised to support their hero’s quest for that elusive #WIN33, the 41-year-old has not celebrated on the top step of a F1 grid since 2013 when he won this race that day for Ferrari
This weekend, with Aston Martin delivering a fine piece of kit which Alonso has put to great use much was expected, at least a starting slot closer to the shape end where he has toiled for most of the season.
Although the early damage did not prevent him from progressing to Q3, it did however limit his firepower substantially for the final hot lap blast. He was ninth fastest, 1.2 seconds down on the pole-winning time set by Max Verstappen.
Alonso: I made a mistake on my out lap in Q1
In the team report, Alonso admitted: “I made a mistake on my out lap in Q1 and ran wide at the exit of the last corner which damaged the floor. This cost us some crucial lap time today. It’s a shame as I think we had the pace to be fighting at the front.
“We’ll see what we can do tomorrow as I felt like the car was still competitive even with the damage. If we can put it all together, I’m still optimistic we could score some good points tomorrow. The fans have been amazing, so we’ll be trying to put on a show for them in the race.”
“The damage was worth a couple of tenths, no more than that. The guys did a good job trying to repair it every time we went in the garage. The last lap in Q3 was quite competitive but I also went the damp part in Turn 10, so it was not my best Saturday. Hopefully a good Sunday,” declared Alonso
As for his expectations for the race, Alonso reckoned: “Maybe the podium is a little bit too far away. Top five is something we should target. We have good pace, good degradation. Let’s see with the new layout if it’s easier or worse to overtake and what we can do with strategy.
Stroll out qualifies Alonso for the first time this season
“Today, was not my best day,” declared the double F1 World Champion. I’m sorry for the team and fans. Sunday is the race and we will give it our all”
Thus for the first time this season, Alonso was out-qualified by teammate Lance Stroll, the Canadian enjoying a better Saturday than he has of late, with the sixth-best time. He reported: “We had a solid qualifying session today and found a strong rhythm on track.
“The car was feeling good – a big improvement from yesterday – so I’m pleased with the set-up changes that we made overnight. The field was incredibly tight though and there are a few cars that are out of position across the grid which will make for an interesting race.
I think Sunday is a big opportunity, so we’ll be working through the data and strategy plans tonight to ensure we’re ready to make the most of it,” added Stroll, who has 27 points and lies eighth in the 2023 F1 drivers standings after six rounds. Alonso on 93 points is third at this stage.