Why Fernando Alonso was happy with fifth place in Jeddah

He was “definitely happy,” explains Fernando Alonso after his fifth place in the Formula 1 race in Saudi Arabia in 2024. The Spaniard started the race from fourth place, but can live with the fact that he finished one position further back be.

As was the case at the season opener in Bahrain, the AMR24 had a better pace in qualifying than in the race. This is also confirmed by Alonso, who emphasizes that they are “pretty close” to their direct opponents in qualifying – but not in the race.

“We saw again in the race that we are still two or three tenths short of Mercedes and McLaren, and maybe a little more than Red Bull and Ferrari,” explains the two-time world champion.

Under these circumstances, finishing ahead of both Mercedes drivers, a McLaren and a Ferrari is “the maximum we can hope for at the moment,” said Alonso, who made it clear: “We have to keep working on the race pace. “

Alonso: Race pace at least better than in Bahrain

At the start, the Spaniard was able to defend his fourth place, but right at the start of the second lap of the race Oscar Piastri passed him in the McLaren. “When Oscar overtook me,” said Alonso, he feared that it could be a long race.

“They came so quickly [von hinten]also the Mercedes, that I thought: ‘Okay, this is going to be a difficult race,'” said Alonso. “But we were able to do George [Russell] keep behind us throughout the race. That was good,” he says with satisfaction.

In fact, Alonso didn’t lose any further positions afterwards, which is why he states that the race pace was at least “better” than in Bahrain, where he finished ninth. “We introduced a new part on Friday that worked really well,” he reveals.

“I think we have taken a step forward in terms of performance,” said Alonso, who nevertheless made it clear that they still had the aforementioned gap of at least two tenths of a second. The challenge now is to catch up.

Alonso radio: “They’re in a different league!”

“But it’s a nice challenge and an interesting season that lies ahead of us,” emphasizes Alonso, who, however, sounded less optimistic during the race. After 15 laps he radioed: “Any chance of Plan B? Because they’re in a different league!”

After the race he explains his radio message as follows: “It was tiring because I was pushing and Oscar was pulling away and George was much faster behind me.” That’s why he was unsure whether the hard tires would last until the end of the race.

“In FT2 we usually do nine or ten laps on the long run. 42 [bis zum Ende] “So driving was unknown territory in terms of tire age,” said Alonso, who explained: “I just made sure that the strategy was still geared towards a stop and we didn’t change the plan.”

Meanwhile, expert Ralf Schumacher believes that it will “take a while” until Aston Martin can fight for podium places again. “[Sie] “We just can’t keep up with the pace,” he says on Sky and explains: “Ferrari has taken a step forward and Red Bull is even more superior than last year.”

Stroll race ends after early crash

That’s why Aston Martin fell behind in comparison. Meanwhile, Alonso’s teammate Lance Stroll didn’t see the checkered flag at all after an early accident. “That can happen here – of course it shouldn’t, no question about it,” said Schumacher, who explained that Stroll was simply “a bit too close” to the wall.

In addition, it happened to him “for the second time” at the weekend, recalls Schumacher, because Stroll had already touched the wall once during training. “It’s annoying for the young man because his pace this weekend wasn’t that bad compared to Fernando,” said Schumacher.

Stroll himself reports: “I pushed really hard in the first few laps. The cars around us were definitely faster and the tires were already struggling. I tried to build a gap and hit the wall.”

There was then a strange dialogue on the radio with his race engineer. He wanted to know: “You can [das Auto] Stroll’s answer: “No, I’m in the damn wall…”