By Luke-John Buckle
Fernando Alonso says “this is just the beginning” after his very impressive third place finish at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The double world champion performed admirably at the season opener, making some superb passes on Lewis Hamilton and Carlos Sainz.
Alonso said: ”I think the most important point is that the new Aston Martin is just a new car, a new project. This is just the beginning.
“This is not the final car, this is just the starting car of this concept that we changed over winter.”
Aston Martin have drastically changed their philosophy for this season with a heavily revised rear wing and an altered engine cover with a larger roll hoop inlet.
Alonso believes the Silverstone-based team have made sweeping changes for the AMR23 whereas other top teams stuck with similar designs to last year.
“I think some of the top teams they just kept the philosophy that they had last year. Red Bull or Ferrari they kept more of the same shapes.
“Just, fine-tuning things and making perfection of that good baseline that they had. For us, it was much more difficult. We have to change 95% of the car.
“So, I guess there is more to learn from the car, and there is more to come on our side. So full trust in our team, obviously they know what they do. So let’s hopefully improve soon.”
Alonso scored his first Formula 1 podium since the 2021 Qatar Grand Prix.
The Spaniard showed off his wheel-to-wheel racing prowess passing Hamilton at Turn 10, a turn which is very rarely a passing zone.
Aston Martin failed to trouble the top of the speed trap charts so the 41-year-old had to get creative when attempting to pass cars on his way to the podium.
“We were not very fast on the straight. So, eventually you normally pass into Turn 1 or into Turn 4.
“And I think I pass Lewis into Turn 10 and Carlos into Turn 11. So not the normal places, because we could not match their straight-line speed.
“So, yeah, we had to make some moves in the corners before Turn 10 and Turn 11 and change trajectory, and then get the overtake done, I think to Lewis was more playing a surprise move there, because no one overtakes into Turn 10.
“And then with Carlos, it was close into Turn 10 again, he closed the door, and then I have a better exit into Turn 11.
“But, yeah, we need to see that because obviously, we will love to pass just on the main straight like everyone does.”
During both of those battles, Alonso had quite large slides at turn 4 – and contact with the other driver was just avoided on both occasions.
“I think we know what is causing that, but I will keep it for me,” said Alonso. “We’re still working. As I said, the car is very new. We need to learn more from the car, I need to get used to the car.
“So those moments were more coming from me getting used to the car, getting used to the driving input, feedback from the steering wheel and power assistance. So things that they are not 100% tailormade yet.”
Both Aston Martin’s scored points in Bahrain with Lance Stroll finishing in P6, ahead of George Russell.
Alonso explained that the Aston Martin was an easy car to drive in Bahrain, allowing him to score his 99th F1 podium.
“And this weekend, even though the race felt very long, the last 10 laps, because I wanted to see the chequered flag and being on the podium.
“The car was very good to drive and I could have driven for another hour or something, just alone on track.”