“I wish I had an answer, it’s what they have on Thursdays … we are all making predictions. We don’t know until Sunday if our performance in Jeddah will be as good as in Bahrain.” Alonso receives the media at the door of the Aston Martin garage. There is some expectation after third place in Sakhir, but the double champion lowers expectations and does not solve the unknowns: “It is a challenge to see how the car works here and in Australia.” And he does not enter the rag when the Anglo-Saxon media ask him about the supposed resemblance of the AMR23 with the Red Bull. “We focus on ourselves, there are very obvious different things on the car. The team effort has been tremendous to build a unique car. I don’t pay much attention, but it’s also not true because the car is very different.
With the Spanish press, a few minutes later, he does elaborate to eliminate any accusation of copying: “Visually they are different. And a sample of them is that Mercedes said that 50% of its car was owned by us; and Red Bull also says that 50% of their car is owned by us. There cannot be two more different concepts, so neither of the two theories is true. Besides, all the cars look alike, the Ferrari, Haas and Alfa Romeo look very similar. To tell the truth, the car closest to ours is the Alpine with the tunnels in the sidepods. It’s been a big improvement from one year to the next and all the teams are struggling with the budget cap. When a team improves by two seconds, you have to look for the reasons”.
Talking about Aston Martin is good, isn’t it? “Yes, and it’s in a good way because the teams praise the work done. Good for now, but we have arrived at a circuit with such different characteristics that we are curious to know if we will be competitive here. The weak points of the car, if it had any in Bahrain, were the fast corner and the top speed. Which is all you need in Jeddah. Perhaps here we will get a negative surprise, we have to wait and improve the car in all the weak points that we identify in the first races”.
Jeddah, a litmus test for the Aston Martin
In Jeddah Corniche the straights and fast corners are protagonists, possible weak points of the AMR23. So Fernando hopes that a good weekend will confirm the car as one of the contenders for almost everything in 2023. “If it goes well here and in Australia, three circuits that complement each other, we would have a very good picture of what the year can be. I hope it is so.” Victory 33, meanwhile, is left for later: “Patience, I don’t think it’s possible with such a strong Red Bull. But if you’re in the top five, there are races where things happen, a safety car that helps you, a pit-stop that goes wrong. The possibilities increase, but we do not have it now between eyebrows. We want to see the car in other conditions and improve it. Soon we will have a full picture of what the car needs.”