Fernando Alonso believes Max Verstappen will easily overcome the disadvantage of starting 15th on the grid for tomorrow’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Alonso took advantage of Verstappen’s problem to claim second on the grid alongside the other Red Bull of Sergio Perez. But Alonso expects they will have to contend with the reigning world champion during the grand prix.
“I think Max will come eventually in the race,” he said. “They have this advantage – I don’t know which race it was last year that he started last, he changed the power unit and still finished P2 or even he won the race. So I think tomorrow there is no doubt that he will be in the podium, probably, minimum.”
Aston Martin were the closest team to Red Bull in the season-opening race two weeks ago, but Alonso believes they are “not in that position yet” to challenge them for wins.
“On pure pace, I think Red Bull is in another league and I think we have to concentrate more on the teams behind,” he said.
“Ferrari will be very strong, Mercedes are strong, also Alpine they are fast here. So I think our race is just behind us.
“But we saw today Max probably was in his league today in qualifying and he could not complete the qualifying with a mechanical issue, apparently. So even if we focus on our mirrors and try to keep the people behind, if anything happens in front, we will try to take the opportunity for sure.”
Rivalling Red Bull is “not our goal” for the time being, said Alonso. “When we launched the car on the 13th of February, I remember very well a conversation with [team principal] Mike Krack, with Lance [Stroll], with the senior management of the team setting the goals for this year and the goals were not fighting Red Bull for the win tomorrow.
“So let’s keep it simple, let’s keep the feet on the ground and don’t make any mistake. Even if we are competitive, we cannot leave these kind of weekends that are so good for us with no points. That would be our biggest mistake. So whatever is available tomorrow, I’m sure we will take it.”
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2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
- 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend F1 driver ratings
- How Red Bull handled Perez and Verstappen’s scrap for fastest lap in Jeddah
- Piastri surprised “really small” first-lap contact damaged his car
- Verstappen: Red Bull reliability essential if title fight is between our cars
- Jeddah performance shows Ferrari have “a lot of work to do” – Sainz
7 comments on “‘No doubt Verstappen will be on the podium, minimum’ – Alonso”
18th March 2023, 22:28
100% agree. Anything other than 2nd would be a really poor result for Verstappen. The RedBull has an easy .5 advantage per lap in qualifying. .8-1.2 in the race and much better tyre wear. He also has better tyre selection due to none being used in Q3. On a track where overtaking will be extremely easy I can’t actually see any way Verstappen doesn’t win tomorrow
19th March 2023, 8:56
I was thinking the same but was intrigued to hear Charles saying he think it will be hard to progress if a DRS train starts to form. The Ferrari is also quick in a straight line so it will be interesting to see how him and Maxake their way forward.
19th March 2023, 10:03
I doubt he’ll finish in 2nd. If he’s in second near the end and can’t overtake by himself, it’s more likely RBR will order Perez to drop back.
That said, I think he’ll be in first without the team’s help before that’s needed.
20th March 2023, 8:45
Well… Looks like I was wrong! I never expected RBR to allow a 1-2 finish the “wrong” way around when they had so long to swap them.
19th March 2023, 10:05
However, I agree with your assessment of lap times etc
19th March 2023, 8:43
Alonso can beat Perez off the start, if he does, then we can expect: Verstappen to catch up to Hamilton on lap 1, if the two can avoid a collision and Verstappen can get past Hamilton on lap 2, then I would expect a Verstappen win, as I doubt Perez can get past Alonso, but Max could by the last half of the race. If Perez beats Alonso off the start, I expect Verstappen to take P2, assuming he doesn’t crash out getting past Hamilton.
Sameer Cader (@sam-cader)
19th March 2023, 14:29
As much as Alonso says that he will fight tooth and nail if he has a whif of a chance of winning