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Aston Martin showing signs of last year’s pace in Melbourne

alonso aston martin f1 melbourne

Apart from the usual suspects – Ferrari and Red Bull – Aston Martin have reason to be buoyant after a solid Friday practice session for the 2024 Australian Grand Prix, where Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso showed signs of the pace they enjoyed early on last season.

Aston Martin, Fernando Alonso in particular, started 2023 with a bang. Last year, three races into the season in Australia, the Spaniard finished third in what was to be six GP podiums in the first six races for him.

This year, the first two races were forgettable in comparison, but at the end of FP2 in Melbourne this Friday, there may be some of that podium-finishing magic in the AMR24 this weekend.

After ending day one at Albert Park in P5 on the timesheets, Alonso was cautiously upbeat: “It’s always satisfying to be towards the top of the timesheet, but we won’t draw any conclusions from today as it’s only Free Practice and there are still plenty of variables to consider.

“It’s tricky here at Albert Park. The track rubbers in quite a lot and the grip changes. That led to me running through the gravel at Turn 10 during FP1, so we had to change the floor during the session.

“Our programme was a little compromised due to that, but FP2 ran smoothly and we completed everything we set out to do. We have a lot of data to now analyse in order to give us the best chance of getting a positive result in Qualifying,” added Alonso, ahead of his 381st Grand Prix start on Sunday.

Stroll: The car felt good

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In a rare case of Lance Stroll ending a session faster than his veteran teammate, the Canadian was a tenth quicker and thus ended day one Down Under p4, half a second shy of the top time set by Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc.

Stroll reported in his team’s Friday review: “The car felt good. I was happy with the balance, and we had a straightforward day gathering plenty of data. We’ve been pretty strong on one-lap pace this season, so it’s positive to see we’ve kept that up here.

“But let’s keep our feet on the ground because it’s Free Practice and we don’t know what the others have been doing. Nevertheless, a positive start to the weekend and I’m looking forward to getting back into the car for Qualifying.”

Stroll is due a strong run of races for his own benefit with some solid points hauls in coming races the target no doubt. With a bad car, the 25-year-old tends to be very bad, but history shows that with a good car he can be a solid performer as three podiums on his CV testify.

Last year’s Australian GP was won by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, followed home by Lewis Hamilton in P2 for Mercedes and Alonso standing on the final step of the podium. (Reporting by Agnes Carlier)