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Piastri: Alonso to Mercedes… And BTW I think we’re near the front

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McLaren driver Oscar Piastri cheekily predicts that Fernando Alonso moving to Mercedes will be the next mega-news event for Formula 1 in 2024, while declaring he is happy with the new MCL38 during Bahrain Testing.

The Australian, embarking on his second season in F1. His second season with McLaren and already showing maturity and calmness that belies his 22 years of age and one season of experience in the top flight, with a lashing of cheeky humour.

At the end of an interview on F1TV Pro about the 2024 F1 season ahead, asked to make a bold and cheeky prediction Piastri declared poker-faced: “Alonso to Mercedes.”

Indeed, apart from ‘Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari’ blockbuster news that shook up the F1 driver market as the seven-time F1 World Champion’s seat at Mercedes becomes available. Who occupies it is the next very big news F1 can expect before the start of the 2025 season.

And the list of contenders is likely to be massive, one can imagine every wannabe F1 driver plus a large swarm of them on the current grid – many out of contract by the end of the season – on the phone to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff offering their services.

Time will tell who will be George Russell’s teammate in 2024 and indeed if Oscar’s prediction for the Aston Martin veteran comes true. Remembering that the young Aussie’s manager is Mark Webber, a close mate of Alonso…

Piastri: I think we’re somewhere towards the front

Piastri: I think we’re somewhere towards the front

As for the business at hand – Bahrain F1 Testing – earlier Friday Piastri reported: “I’d like to think we are somewhere towards the front of the grid. I certainly don’t feel at the moment we are in a position to challenge Red Bull, I’m not sure anyone on the grid particularly feels that way at the moment.”

“Without jumping to very early conclusions just with past results around Bahrain specifically, Bahrain is not on paper a great circuit for us so it’s a bit hard to have a read after just two days of testing,” explained Piastri.

And added: “It’s a bit hard to tell and I expect it to chop and change quite a lot depending on the circuit characteristics. It’s very hard to get a read on where everyone else sits at the moment, the only pretty clear conclusion from everyone is that Red Bull are looking strong.

“They don’t look slow, put it that way! It’s hard to say. On day one Max looked very very strong and even Sergio today has certainly looked a bit more comfortable than he was Thursday. So they are definitely the team to beat.

“How much their advantage is I’m not quite sure, but it is enough of an advantage to be comfortable. For everyone else, I’m not sure but I think Red Bull are a step ahead,” reckoned Piastri, who beat the Red Bulls in the Qatar Sprint race in 2023, his rookie season in F1 in which he finished ninth.