Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Suzuka, 2023

Alonso “very proud” to maintain Q3 run at track team was “concerned about”

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In the round-up: Fernando Alonso says he is happy to reach Q3 in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix

In brief

Alonso “very proud” to reach Q3 despite qualifying tenth

Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso says he is more than happy to have qualified in tenth for today’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

Alonso will equal his worst starting position in the 2023 season today, but kept his perfect record of Q3 appearances alive in yesterday’s qualifying session. He believes that Suzuka does not suit Aston Martin’s car.

“I think on paper we were right to be concerned about the high speed corners and nature of Suzuka – as we are in Qatar as well,” Alonso said.

“We know that, on paper, maybe Qatar is not also the best circuit for us. But even on difficult days we still managed to be in Q3 thanks to a very good lap. So this type of qualifying, again, they will be unnoticed for many people, but I’m very proud.”

Lawson “50-50” to race Qatar

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says Liam Lawson’ chances of racing in the Qatar Grand Prix in two weeks’ time in place of Daniel Ricciardo are “50-50”.

The rookie has stepped in for the injured Ricciardo since he broke his hand in practice for the Dutch Grand Prix. However, Red Bull have confirmed that both Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda will race for them in 2024, leaving Lawson without a full time race seat.

“I think that there’s only one seat available in Formula 1 at the moment and it seems to be the Williams seat and it’d be unlikely they take a driver for one year,” Horner told Sky. “So he’s going to focus on that test and reserve role and do as much running as he can in the background in the simulator.

“We’ve seen what he’s capable of. He’s got the opportunity this weekend, it’s 50-50 regarding Qatar at the moment. So he’s done the right thing, he’s grabbed that opportunity. I said to him yesterday, you’ve done everything and more that you could have.”

Maximum lap time “worked really well” – Russell

Mercedes’ George Russell says he hopes that the FIA continue to apply the maximum lap time into future qualifying sessions.

Race director Niels Wittich extended the maximum lap time rule that exists for in-laps to all laps in qualifying for the second time in three rounds at Suzuka. After there were no incidents of impeding, Russell believes the maximum lap time was effective.

“I think it worked well today and if the FIA allow us to make that gap in the pit lane, which they did today, if you all stick to the exact same lap time you’ll be arriving in sector three at the same gap as you were leaving the pit lane,” Russell explained. “So I think that worked really well and I hope this approach can continue.”

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Comment of the day

With AlphaTauri confirming that Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo will race for the team in 2024, RBAlonso has reservations…

I don’t understand any of this.

I can’t understand why Tsunoda deserves another season. The alarm bells rang for me early in the season when [team principal] Franz Tost called his engineers ‘liars’ concerning the car performance expectation versus reality. Nyck de Vries compounded that issue but the car has looked decent since Nyck was dropped – make of that what you will. I think Yuki has had enough chances without ever blowing me away and three seasons is a fair return for his talent – he’s not going to Red Bull, and Honda are going to Aston Martin, so what is this next season meant to prove?

I also don’t understand where Liam Lawson goes now. He’s done F2 and Super Formula. Is he going to have a year out? If so who would he replace? Surely it would be Tsunoda.

If Ricciardo performs well next season and gets the 2025 Red Bull drive will Lawson be promoted to race against Tsunoda again? That seems a delayed reaction and if Ricciardo is good enough to be promoted surely Tsunoda would be dropped.

The only thing I can think of here is that Yuki signed this contract in the summer and they are announcing it at his home race. It’s given Lawson some false hope that there was a chance to get the drive for next year but that’s racing.

In any event, it’s a strange decision to alienate their best junior when they don’t exactly have a huge talent stream coming down the line. That said, Helmut Marko has discovered more F1 talent than I have.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Christian Mateus, Selidor and Michael!

On this day in motorsport

  • 35 years ago today Alain Prost took pole position for the Portuguese Grand Prix – his second pole of the season

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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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4 comments on “Alonso “very proud” to maintain Q3 run at track team was “concerned about””

  1. Regarding COTD, Marko has also ‘discovered’ some absolute clunkers, so don’t be too hard on yourself!

  2. With Stroll unable to get out of last place or close to it now after qualifying in the top ten most of the first half of the season and then usually getting getting within a few positions of 10th after car’s performance fell off majorly, it’s impressive FA has managed to be the only driver to make Q3 at every single round.

  3. Ricciardo signed on the Singapore GP weekend (I konw because Horner said that in an interview yesterday), but I doubt Tsunoda would’ve signed as long ago as in the summer.
    Nevertheless, COTD makes a good point about the matter generally.

  4. I always find it a little odd setup that all Alpha Tauri driver (and other stuff) questions are answered by Christian, not Frank Tost, or anyone else, I wonder if that’ll continue under Laurent Mekies?

    I guess Christian seemingly enjoys the camera stuff and Franz doesn’t, but it does make it look like Christian runs two teams at times. Which I’m sure he doesn’t.

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