The first Qatar Grand Prix Formula 1in 2021, brought an unexpected podium of Fernando Alonso with Alpine, preceded by Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. If that success was a surprise, it would also be a surprise if this weekend he managed to repeat his success at the wheel of an Aston Martin that has lost steam since the summer and that suffers especially on circuits with medium and high speed curves like Losail. So even Alonso assumes that starting tomorrow he will have to suffer to try to get ‘oil’ out of the AMR23.
“It seems a little optimistic to think about the podium this weekend. We’ll see, it will be a stressful weekend for everyone. With the new asphalt, with the temperature so extreme and only a few free ones to fine-tune the car as it is a sprint format,” Fernando acknowledged upon his arrival at the Qatari circuit this Thursday.
“It is an interesting weekend, but looking at Suzuka, this could be a difficult weekend in terms of performance,” added the Spaniard at the FIA press conference. The grand prix begins with maximum temperatures of 41ºC (47º on track), which will raise the demands. “The circuit is good, it will be something different with the new asphalt and the new facilities. I hope it will be fun. With this generation of cars it has gone quite well in fast corners and it has suffered in a slow corner. Everything here is a fast corner, so with the current cars it will be better than with the 2021 ones. The question is the grip and the dust in Free Practice 1. Furthermore, with the sprint weekend there will be more spice,” Alonso assessed.
About the progress of McLarenwhich is already hot on the heels of Aston Martin in the fight for fourth place in the constructors (49 points with six grands prix remaining), Fernando assumes that it will be difficult to defend himself: “They are on a good streak and they are quite fast. Every weekend we see ups and downs. They were strong before the summer break, in Austria and Silverstone. We were on the podium in Zandvoort and they suffered there. It’s good if they have excess confidence and we can beat them in Abu Dhabi,” he said.
“We will have new parts towards the end of the season. They are not intended to make the car faster, but to serve as a guide for the development of next year’s car. Nobody brings big updates, so I think the balance of power should be more or less the same as what we saw in Japan. I don’t expect a very different race from that one and it would be a bit presumptuous to expect us to get a podium, but many things can happen,” he warned.
Asked about the third crown that Max Verstappen will most likely achieve this weekendFernando highlighted the seamless talent of the Dutchman, although he hesitated when it came to making comparisons with legendary drivers in F1. and especially with Michael Schumacher: “I can only congratulate Max for this season, which has been incredible, breaking records. When you win so many races in a row and some not easy ones… like the period from June to July, with changeable weather, rain sometimes, without making any mistake, you can only have great respect,” he stressed. “Honestly, I have only driven wheel to wheel with Michael. Maybe, yes, it is comparable. But we have to wait. The next few years may be even better for Max, he will continue adding titles, we will be able to compare him closer to Michael in the future,” he added. .
Regarding Andretti’s interest in joining the F1 grid in 2026, after passing the FIA screening and in the absence of an agreement with the FOM, Fernando has given his point of view: Without a doubt it is a great team and it is a good name for F1. We trust the FIA and the FOM on this. More drivers on the grid? Even with 50 drivers you always fight against the 2-3 who have a similar package, so I don’t know,” he concluded.