If in the first classification of the year, in Bahrain, Fernando Alonso returned to his status as a competitive driver with a 5th place in the opening of his green stage, in the second timed session, in Saudi Arabia, the Asturian gave another unexpected blow to the seize the second starting position for this Sunday (6:00 p.m.). It did help, however, the 10-place penalty for Charles Leclerc and the surprising break in Max Verstappen's Red Bull, which will start 15th and open the door for Alonso to dream of the greatest thing: victory. Although he will have the other bull in front, Checo Pérez's Red Bull, the favorite to win.
Fernando Alonso has not started from the front row of the grid for 15 Grands Prix; the last time was in Canada 2022 (to finish 9th with the Alpine). Now the situation is noticeably better: the Aston Martin has also been confirmed in Saudi Arabia as a car for great feats.
The Asturian was elated with his result, a third place that was second and multiplies his options: "It's been a very good weekend for us, qualifying was our weakness in Bahrain, and today the car performed very well at a lap. We'll see what we can do in the race. It's amazing to start on the front row of the grid. We're confident in the race pace. The car is strong, the race is our strong point. Tomorrow we should be better than today, so we're hopeful ".
For Aston Martin, this second GP must be the confirmation that the 2023 project is born on the right foot and with high aspirations. The Jeddah Corniche circuit boasts of being the fastest urban track in the world, with average speeds of about 252 km/h. A litmus test for the aerodynamic configuration and the power of the cars. And Aston Martin, with a small mouth, slides that it is also ready for this profile.
“It is a circuit that we had a lot of respect for because we did not know how the car would go in a fast corner. In general it is going well. We have a good base. We are a little better than we expected ”, explained Pedro de la Rosa, Aston Martin ambassador, at the Dazn TV microphone. The numbers were very encouraging before the qualifying session: third place for Alonso in two of the free trials, and second in the other, being the driver who came closest to the Red Bull.
In the first qualifying round, the Asturian's AMR23 confirmed his good form with third position, 0.537 behind the ineffable Verstappen. Alonso spun on his first lap, losing the back at Turn 2 to cold tyres.
Upon completing his first lap, he slipped 4th, between Leclerc (3rd) and Russell (5th), between a Ferrari and a Mercedes. But in his second attempt, he improved the time by one tenth and moved up to third place, behind the two Red Bulls. Stroll ratified the form of the green car, placing fourth, behind Alonso, and leaving the two Ferraris in the third row, Leclerc 5th and Sainz 6th.
The theater blow was reserved for the second sleeve. Alonso started first and set a stratospheric 1m28s757, the best lap of the weekend, on provisional pole. Verstappen was expected at the end of the period, but preparing for his fastest lap he had a mechanical problem, a possible break in the driveshaft. He did not set a lap and got out of the car: he will start 15th. The champion was out of the game. The fight for pole position, but also for victory would be more open.
Only Checo Pérez was able to unseat Alonso in his last lap by 122 thousandths. Leclerc was third, at 269, and Sainz signed fourth place. The four would play the pole.
In the final Q3, the moment of truth, Alonso hammered the first again, set a great time (2 tenths worse than in Q2), but it was seen that he was not enough for pole position. He was successively surpassed by Leclerc, Russell and a stratospheric and unattainable Pérez (1m28s265), who lowered the Asturian's time by 6 tenths, fourth. Sainz could only be eighth.
In the second attempt of Q3, Alonso still improved his time and managed to climb one position, to third place behind Leclerc, but the Spaniard will start second due to the 10-place penalty for the Monegasque. Russell was unable to improve and fell behind in fourth and Sainz in fifth. Hamilton signed the eighth. Everyone gains a position due to the aforementioned penalty for Leclerc, who will start 12th
1. Sergio Pérez (Red Bull)
2. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin)
3. George Russell (Mercedes)
4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
5. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
6. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
7. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
8. Oscar Piastri (McLaren)
9. Pierre Gasly (Alpine)
10. Nico Hulkenberg (Haas)
11. Guanyu Zhou (Alfa Romeo)
12. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
13. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
14. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo)
15. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
16. Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri)
17. Alex Albon (Williams)
18. Nyck de Vries (Alpha Tauri)
19. Lando Norris (McLaren)
20. Logan Sargeant (Williams)