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alonso jeddah qualifying

Alonso: Nice surprise to be on the second row

alonso jeddah qualifying

Fernando Alonso admitted he was shocked to qualify fourth on the grid for the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The Spaniard, driving for Aston Martin, will start the Grand Prix on Saturday from the second row after driving his AMR24 to within four tenths of a second of the ever-dominant Max Verstappen for Red Bull.

Alonso looked especially fast through the first two sectors, but subsequently lost time in the final sector and dropped behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez to wind up P4.

Despite this, the veteran was delighted with his performance and the team for providing him with a solid car. He said: “It’s a nice surprise again to have a strong Qualifying in Jeddah. We are very competitive in one lap and our car is responding very well in Qualifying.

“I enjoyed every lap out there tonight. On my final push lap in Q3 I managed to take a tow from Lewis [Hamilton] onto the main straight but maybe I lost a tenth of a second into Turn 1, so in the end it balanced out over the lap.”

The Jeddah Corniche Circuit lends itself to chaotic racing and plenty of opportunities for overtaking, as has been witnessed in previous seasons. Alonso is aware of the challenge he faces for Saturday’s 50-lap event.

“It’s a good result for Aston Martin but the real test is tomorrow. We have our feet on the ground and we will see where we are with our race pace,” added Alonso.

Stroll: The car felt a bit tricky

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Meanwhile, Lance Stroll in the other Aston Martin secured P10 in Qualifying. The Canadian admitted disappointment in his final run which saw him finish slowest of the Q3 runners.

Stroll’s quickest lap came in the first phase of the session, which he was then unable to improve upon while those around him found more time. This was a cause for confusion for him: “Q1 was very good; the car felt really positive. But then I think we might have had some issues in Q3; we need to investigate it.

“The car felt a bit tricky and then I lost some time in the final sector, which is basically just straights, on my last Q3 lap.”

The 25-year-old is expecting to move up the order during the race. Stroll added: “We need to look into why we weren’t able to go any quicker after Q1, we were much better at the start of Qualifying than at the end. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow – it’s going to be a long race, with a lot of degradation, so there will definitely be some opportunities.”

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix begins at 17:00 GMT (20:00 local time) on Saturday March 9th.