Fernando Alonso Interviews transcripted – 2023 Saudi Arabian GP Thursday
Q: I imagine you probably hoped for 23 rounds in Bahrain because I guess you were starting to know the circuit pretty well. The car was performing well, but now we’re in Jeddah. So why might it be more difficult for you this weekend?
FA : Let’s see, I think until we hit the track, we will not know. But yeah, there are a couple of things that they are very different here in Jeddah compared to Bahrain. A lot of high speed content, a lot of top speed needed with the lone straight. And let’s see if our car is strong. Also in those specs.
Q: From having had a look through the data and analysed everything after Bahrain, do you think you were slightly flattered by the performance of other teams or do you think you genuinely have the car to take it to the podium and to the win this year?
FA : I think in Bahrain we were the second fastest on the race on Sunday, so we were okay with that podium. But in Jeddah, we don’t know. And Australia, I think those three first events of the 2023 calendar will give us a clear idea, a clear picture of how competitive we can be.
But I don’t know. So far, we’ve been happy with race one. Let’s go to attack race two. Some challenges ahead, for sure, but I think we have to go race by race.
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Q : And just finally, a word on the track changes here. Have you been out to see what’s changed and how do you view those changes?
FA : Yeah, more visibility in few corners. The curbs are a little bit lower, so more or less all we requested last year. I think they have been addressed and there were some work on those points. So I think we have to be very happy with the changes on the circuit. Let’s see tomorrow while driving, if we can feel also positive.
To Sky Sports F1
Q : Fernando, I know we’re in a really bright spot here, so you got the sunglasses on, but how excited are those eyes behind those sunglasses right now? How happy are you with how it’s going so far?
FA : Yeah, I’m very happy. I think generally we’ve been obviously performing very well in testing and race one, we still obviously need to confirm many things. In race two here in Saudi, also in Australia, I think we need to wait and see how the car performs in every circuit. But yeah, generally I think the first step of this project has been done, which is a good baseline. So happy with that. Let’s see what we can do from here.
Q : Slightly different circuit, you’ve got more high speed corners here. How’s your car through the high speed corners? And do you think Ferrari are going to pose more of a challenge to everyone else around them this weekend?
FA : Yeah, I think so. I think they were very good at high speed. They were very good on the top speed as well on the straight. So Jeddah probably will be a strong circuit for Ferrari. Mercedes as well, I expect them [to be] fast. Alpine, Alfa Romeo, I think within three or four tenths things can change very quickly circuit to circuit.
So for us it’s more a challenge into Jeddah coming from Bahrain, trying to set up the car here for this different conditions and see if we can be competitive as well.
Q : What do you make of the changes they’ve made to the track, because they’ve tried to ease some of the positions sight wise for you guys and also got rid of those curbs that were causing so much trouble?
I think they are all positive. I think in a way, they are listening to us and they try to make the modifications needed to be a little bit safer. This is the fastest street circuit in the world and obviously the adrenaline is very high driving. But you need to fine tune it a little bit in the first couple of years to make it safer as well. So, yeah, I think they did more or less what we wanted. So let’s try tomorrow and hopefully it’s a good thing.
Q : Fernando, I just ask you one final question. We saw you called Lance a hero after the race in Bahrain. We then saw the video of what he had to go through to get back in that car. And I know in the past people have thought it’s easy for him to drive because his dad owns the team, but to see how much he cared and how hard he worked to get back in that car, I think has surprised a lot of people. Did you have a word on Lance and what he achieved last weekend just to get in the car in the first place?
FA : Obviously in the team we knew what he went through and we were updated always on his progress. And when he decided to try on Friday, it was already something heroic and coming to the car and tried to drive on Friday was something that we didn’t expect. So when he decided that he was fit enough to race on Saturday and Sunday, I think, as you said, he proved to many people the determination, his passion for motorsport, and we were all very proud of him.
To Canal Plus (France)
Asked on what can Aston Martin achieve in 2023.
FA : You never know. You never have the crystal ball to know what the teams will do. I think Aston did improve a lot, but it’s only race one. So let’s see at the end of the year where everyone is, and our main focus at the moment is to learn about the car and take Jeddah, let’s say, like a second test after Bahrain, especially tomorrow on Friday. And let’s see how things go on Sunday.
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