Alonso: Top five result my aim despite front row Canada F1 start

Fernando Alonso says Alpine should “realistically” aim to finish Formula 1’s Canadian Grand Prix in fifth place, despite qualifying second behind Red Bull driver Max Verstappen.

Alonso: Top five result my aim despite front row Canada F1 start
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Alonso has been in fine form throughout F1’s return to Montreal for the first time since 2019 – not finishing outside the top five in any practice session (he topped the wet FP3 running) and then pipping fellow Spaniard Carlos Sainz to second in qualifying after the Ferrari driver’s efforts to ace the final turns in Q3 went awry.  

Second in Montreal qualifying was Alonso’s best F1 grid spot since he started on pole at the 2012 German GP back when he raced for Ferrari, but the two-time world champion is not assuming that will lead to a podium finish or better in Sunday’s race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.  

This is because Alonso fears the pace advantage enjoyed so far by 2022 frontrunners Red Bull and Ferrari means Verstappen and Sainz will do battle for the win, while Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc attempt to recover up the order from their lowly grid spots.  

If they do that – likely aided by the high possibility of a safety car intervention at an effective street track – Alonso reckons beating MercedesLewis Hamilton to fifth would still be “like a win” for Alpine.

“Realistically, I would say the top five is what we should fight for,” Alonso said of his race expectations in the post-qualifying press conference.

“We have a very good starting position, but we know our limitations and we saw in many races already that Ferrari or Red Bull starting last or having a puncture in lap one or whatever, they still finish with a good margin in front of us. 

“So, I think the top four places are locked. Fifth is [therefore] like a win for us and that’s probably the spot that we should aim for.”

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522

When asked about how he sees the start of the race playing out from his front row starting spot, Alonso said his “goal is to lead the race in lap one”. 

He continued: "So, Turn 1, maximum attack! And then after that they [Verstappen and Sainz] can go and they can fight. But it would be nice – sweet – to lead the race.”

Although Alonso says Alpine is “still missing a little bit of downforce, a little bit of total grip in the car”, he praised the team’s work to set-up its car to work well in the various conditions that the drivers have encountered in Canada.

“We’ve been working a lot on the tyre degradation [in dry Friday practice] – also a lot of set-up changes [to try and help with that],” he said. 

“So, I think we are better prepared than any other race so far this year, so let’s finish the job.”

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