Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023

Alonso puts Aston Martin fastest ahead of Red Bull in second practice

2023 Bahrain Grand Prix second practice

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Fernando Alonso finished his first day of official track action as an Aston Martin grand prix driver fastest of all in second practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

His best time of a 1’30.907 was 0.169 seconds faster than world champion Max Verstappen, with Sergio Perez third in the second Red Bull, just two-thousandths of a second slower.

As the only practice session to be held under the lights, as the race itself will be, it would be a crucial hour of data gathering for all ten teams. Track temperatures were almost 20 degrees lower than in the first hour of running, and all 20 drivers took to the circuit on soft tyres, including Ferrari, who only ran with the mediums during first practice.

Charles Leclerc set the early pace, a tenth of a second quicker than team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr. Oscar Piastri had a scare while trying to pass an AlphaTauri into turn one, having to avoid Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin which was dawdling on the track on its way out of the pit lane.

Stroll, still getting familiar with his new car, put on a new set of soft tyres and posted a 1’31.450 to go fastest of all quicker than the two Ferraris. Perez then replaced Stroll at the top of the times with a 1’31.078, before Alonso set a new best time of the day with a 1’30.907, 0.17s faster than Perez, before Verstappen improved to move second, just two-thousandths of a second faster than his team mate.

Alexander Albon, Williams, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023
Gallery: 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix pactrice in pictures
Over the second half of the hour, teams focused on gathering long run data – mostly on the soft tyres. Alonso and Verstappen maintained pace around the low-to-mid 1’37s, until Alonso was held up after caught the AlphaTauri of De Vries.

Towards the end of the session Stroll revealed his performance was being compromised by the injury to his right wrist he is still recovering from. After his race engineer Ben Michell advised him to compromise his line through the first corner in order to be quicker through the second, Stroll interrupted to say: “I can’t man, I can’t, with the hands.”

When the chequered flag flew, Alonso was confirmed as the fastest driver, ahead of the two Red Bulls of Verstappen and Perez. Leclerc was fourth-fastest for Ferrari, almost half a second behind Alonso’s best, with Nico Hulkenberg fifth for Haas and Stroll sixth for Aston Martin, appearing to struggle slightly with his injured hand through the first hairpin.

Pierre Gasly was seventh for Alpine, ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris. Zhou Guanyu completed the top ten for Alfa Romeo. Before the session was over the stewards announced they would investigate a potentially unsafe pit release incident which occurred when AlphaTauri send Nyck de Vries out of his garage in front of Lando Norris.

2023 Bahrain Grand Prix second practice result

Position Number Driver Team Model Time Gap Laps
1 14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin-Mercedes AMR23 1’30.907 25
2 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull RB19 1’31.076 0.169 24
3 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull RB19 1’31.078 0.171 26
4 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF-23 1’31.367 0.460 26
5 27 Nico Hulkenberg Haas-Ferrari VF-23 1’31.376 0.469 25
6 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes AMR23 1’31.450 0.543 28
7 10 Pierre Gasly Alpine-Renault A523 1’31.475 0.568 24
8 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W14 1’31.543 0.636 27
9 4 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes MCL60 1’31.570 0.663 27
10 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo-Ferrari C43 1’31.586 0.679 27
11 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault A523 1’31.608 0.701 25
12 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari C43 1’31.793 0.886 28
13 63 George Russell Mercedes W14 1’31.882 0.975 25
14 55 Carlos Sainz Jnr Ferrari SF-23 1’31.956 1.049 28
15 81 Oscar Piastri McLaren-Mercedes MCL60 1’32.024 1.117 27
16 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari VF-23 1’32.110 1.203 18
17 23 Alexander Albon Williams-Mercedes FW45 1’32.440 1.533 28
18 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Red Bull AT04 1’32.525 1.618 27
19 21 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri-Red Bull AT04 1’32.605 1.698 28
20 2 Logan Sargeant Williams-Mercedes FW45 1’32.749 1.842 29

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2023 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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56 comments on “Alonso puts Aston Martin fastest ahead of Red Bull in second practice”

  1. Hype train intensifies!

    1. Someone was watching F1 TV.

      1. I wasn’t, no. Why? what did they say?

        1. In FP1 and 2, they were endlessly seesawing between talking about how great Alonso/Aston looked and joking about the “hype train.” During FP1, Sam Collins was saying he thought Aston was running 1.25 gallons less than RBR and Ferrari and they were like “don’t try and dampen the hype train, Sam!” In FP2, Buxton was in the pit lane super excited about Aston and they joked “Will, is definitely on the hype train!”

          So, yeah, lots of hype train talk. lol

          1. Man. Look at the time Stroll did with not having had any running last week and with two broken hands. Fernando can go much quicker than this.

  2. May be the Aston Martin was great all along since 2020? Seb wasn’t fast enough?

    1. Bait comment.

    2. I think you’re being cheeky, but they didn’t have Dan Fallows and the dozen+ other engineers on the cars they designed for him. Also, Seb was never fast in cars that didn’t suit his style well, unlike extremely adaptable drivers like Alonso.

    3. Seb has been bad for a few years so yea.

  3. Looks like Seb might regret his decision.

  4. You have to respect how Lawrence Stroll has succeeded in turning Aston around if this is really their position. Some people have a lot of money, but do not know how to spend them.

    1. Tbh even if they are only the fourth fastest team regularly, it would be impressive.

      1. Indeed. Last year they where nowhere and their strategy at the time (designing a baseline car to further develop during the season) made a lot of people jump to conclusions, as well as their Red Bull ‘copy’ later in the season – and I must admit I was skeptical as well – it looked like they were going down the – copy paste route, which makes you will always be a couple of steps behind. But by the looks of it there was much more behind it. So credit where credit is due. Curious to see what their performance will be this weekend and the coming – Alonso might just have (finally) made the right team switch in his career.

  5. As predicted, one race too early for Stroll to return.

    1. Any chance of Drugovich still racing, or is it too late after FP2?
      Can’t remember how late it was for de Vries last year.

      1. I think a new driver can come in as late as qualifying and take part in the race. I think it’s just the race that they cant go straight into.

        1. @t1redmonkey Indeed.
          Qualifying is the absolute deadline for any in-event driver change to meet the ‘at least one session, qualifying or practice, before a race’ requirement.
          @oople

          1. @jerejj did they change it? before you had to do one practice to be able to enter the GP. So usually, friday night was the deadline

          2. @fer-no65 Maybe a while ago, but the current requirement has been in place for at least a long time.
            For example, otherwise, Hulkenberg couldn’t have substituted for Stroll in the Eifel GP as he hadn’t driven in a single practice session before qualifying, nor Di Resta for Massa in the 2017 Hungarian GP for the same reason.

          3. @fer-no65 Qualifying has always been classed as a practice session. In the sporting regulations it’s referred to as “qualifying practice.”

          4. Thank you

    2. Funny how the FIA will let a driver race with pins in a broken wrist that clearly doesn’t have a full range of motion or strength but not wearing an earring.
      I’d also suggest it shows a complete lack of respect of basic health and safety for an employer to allow a driver to drive in his condition too.

      1. The pins are made exactly for stuff like this, supporting someones wrist. As a certified medical tool which is inside the body of the driver its difficult to compare it to an external thing like an earring. There are multiple sports that you’re allowed to do with them.
        I agree that he is clearly not as fit as others, but if he passes all the tests there’s not a lot the FIA can do imo.
        An earring though, is not made to be part of an F1 outfit and it is quite normal for earrings to be removed during sports. It isn’t allowed in football, handbal and a variety of other sports. Comparing it to the pins feels like compring apples and oranges…

        1. Well said, Axel.

        2. You’ve got to be joking claiming an earring is worse than an injured wrist. F1 isn’t a contact sport where people’s ears are exposed. It fits in a helmet and doesn’t interfere with the HANS device in any way. Lewis has raced in head jewelry for years without any issue. He can remove his helmet and balaclava just as easily as any driver. It poses no risk in 99.9% of accidents. While racing with a broken wrist poses a far higher risk of causing an accident to himself and others.

          1. Jewelry was always forbidden during races as it could damage the driver when retrieved that is the only reason against it……..

          2. Problem with the jewelry is it’s very dangerous when heat comes into play. And it’s something all drivers must adhere to, not just Lewis.

            You can make a case that maybe they can add a new regulations that bans driving with a broken wrist that the rules haven’t covered yet but that doesn’t change the fact that racing with jewelry is inherently dangerous (IE you can ban both, not a neither nor). The whole point of the rules is to also cover edge cases where 99% chance of not happening, cos 1% in a repetitive sports is still high. And safety standards and expectations are always improving (in the 60s people can die in a race and they would continue on after a break, that doesn’t fly today).

            F1 did well for decades without the halo either to the point where there is a lot of debate on whether it was needed when it was introduced (now thankfully resolved). I’m not saying jewelry is anywhere near that important but if it takes away one extra dangerous aspect then it’s worth it. The point of the rules is to prevent these dangerous edge cases from happening in the first place even if they’re on average unlikely.

      2. You should see the kind of things that happen in motorcycle races. The number of riders racing after severe injuries

      3. Because it’s a medical aid, not a decoration.

  6. This abrasive track also favors cars that are easy on their tires, especially rear tires and the Force India/Aston Martin has always been well known for being easy on its tires. So, factor in Ferrari seemingly struggling on rear tire wear and they could be in trouble when you factor in that Aston Martin’s long run performance has actually been its biggest strength so far if they can pair that with a good qualifying.

  7. Actually excited that this may be a real challenge to Red Bull domination. Though it probably isn’t.
    Stroll driving effectively one-handed? Not just ridiculous and dangerous, surely he’s going to increase the damage if he tries a full race like that?

    1. I doubt they’ll actually be a challenger for RBR. I still expect to see a half second gap from RBR to whoever is second fastest. I’d be so, so happy if they did turn out to be.

      1. My guess too. However I do trust Alonso to mount a better title challenge than Ferrari or their drivers if the Aston Martin gets close enough.

        1. If given the tools, Alonso will bring the fight to anyone and unlike Leclerc and Sainz he doesn’t make mistakes. I say this literally, Alonso had less spins let alone crashes in his many seasons at McLaren, Renault and Ferrari combined than CL and CS had in a single season in 2022. That’s why I don’t get people putting Leclerc in the Max, Alonso, Lewis category.

    2. @david-br Yes, his temporary left-hand positioning is unusual, but nothing compared to Kubica’s situation & he could drive an entire season with more limited right-hand capacity.

      1. @jerejj OK, but he hasn’t been training to compensate for months/years like Kubica, plus he was clearly unable to turn fully into some corners as he wanted – in a race situation, avoiding incidents for example, that would be dangerous.

      2. There is a big difference between allowing a driver with a physical impairment that they’ve adapted to driving compared to a driver who has an injury driving. Especially when it comes to responsibility if it results in an accident at work if you’ve allowed a person with an injury to work.

      3. @jerejj And that’s exactly why Kubica went from a top tier driver to uncompetitive. He was able to keep up, but he was no longer super fast after he came back.

    3. Don’t forget Robert Kubica

  8. Only practice, but Aston Martin’s relative long-run pace seems decent, & even Stroll’s single-lap pace (notwithstanding the usual caveats) is good, considering his lack of preparation & right-hand situation.

  9. I still expect the Q3 pole time to get into the 1:29’s, whilst exciting for Aston and Alonso, it defo looks like they could be the 4th best team.

    1. 4th place, not team.

  10. Hate to be the bad news guy but while the long runs started ok for AM they ended quite badly. RedBull comfortably quicker than everyone else with Ferrari actually looking quite good on race pace. Leclerc matching Verstappen towards the end of the stint whereas Alonso had dropped nearly 0.8 off the pace.

    Horror show again for Mercedes. They’ll struggle to get into Q3 and are nearly 2 seconds a lap off the race pace to start a stint! The pace did come to them slightly as the stint went on, but they didn’t get to within a second of RedBulll,Ferrari or Aston. Ouch.

    1. Alonso was trading fastest times with Verstappen. They were lapping in the mid 1m36s. Alonso finished in the 1m37.1s which is decent. Leclerc started his stint lapping in the 1.40m which suggests that he was fully loaded and finished the mid 1m37s.

    2. Come on, it is practise. You know how much fuel they were running?

  11. Alonso was even more impressive in his long runs lapping faster than Verstappen. Ferrari seems to be behind especially in tyre management. The tyre degradation looked normal though both RBR and AM seem not to suffer from any tyre wear at all. Their times remained competitive towards the end of their stints. Mercedes didn’t impress with neither drivers.

    On another note, Stroll was visibly struggling with his right hand to turn the steering wheel which can be dangerous and damaging at the same time. I think the FIA should take a closer look and make sure he can race safely this weekend.

  12. petebaldwin (@)
    3rd March 2023, 16:56

    I’m still not buying the AM hype, personally. I think they’ll be where McLaren were in 2021- best of the rest and able to put pressure on any of the big 3 if they have a bad weekend. I also think they’re going to struggle to keep up with the development race over the season.

    We’ll see though – I’d love to see Alonso able to fight for wins!

    1. I don’t know. Mercedes and Ferrari seem to have gone backward. AM will probably end up behind Ferrari, but Mercedes looks weak. RBR will be even further ahead of everyone this season.

  13. It’d be quite amusing if customer Aston Martin jumps ahead of its supplier Mercedes.

    Still, things like Haas matching Ferrari on pace and rather sizable gaps between teammates suggest there was still a lot of ‘testing’ going on. Seems like the real picture will only emerge over the sessions that actually matter for grid slots and points.

    1. It’d be quite amusing if customer Aston Martin jumps ahead of its supplier Mercedes.

      That would be hilarious since Toto helped his friend Lawrence to improve his team’s competitiveness in the past with the pink Mercedes.

  14. It’s year 2023 and Mercedes still carrying the tradition of sandbagging until the first Q3 qualifying session?

  15. some racing fan
    3rd March 2023, 17:37

    Amazing. He really is one of the best F1 drivers ever.

  16. That was one of the most fun practice sessions in a long time,it felt like qualifying jn parts!
    I’m 99% on board the Aston Martin hype train now, even if their race pace doesn’t hold up they’ve still been mighty entertaining.

  17. I don’t believe in Aston Martin. In race, they should be 1-1.5 seconds slower than Red Bull. And at least half a second slower than Ferrari. In qualification, to get into top 5 will be a miracle.
    What’s more likely is that Ferrari and Red Bull had 10-20-30 kg more fuel than Aston Martin.

  18. Still no “the championship is over” cliché !

  19. Whether Aston genuinely has a car quick enough to rival Red Bull or not, I expect Alonso to run it as close as anyone can. Could we be in for a repeat of 2012? A mouth-watering prospect! It’s hard not to get at least a bit excited even if we have only seen 2 practice sessions!

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