Fernando Alonso rules out beating Red Bull, predicts Max Verstappen podium at the “minimum” | F1
Alonso is set to start the race in Jeddah alongside Red Bull’s Sergio Perez after championship leader Max Verstappen hit trouble in Q2.
Even though Aston Martin are likely to have better race pace relative to their own qualifying performance, the Spaniard has ruled out challenging for the race victory in Saudi Arabia.
“I don’t know [if we can beat Perez] – I think we are not in that position yet,” Alonso said.
“On pure pace, I think Red Bull is in another league and I think we have to concentrate more on the teams behind. So Ferrari will be very strong, Mercedes are strong, also Alpine – they are fast here.
“I think our race is just behind us. We saw today Max probably was in his league today in qualifying and he could not complete the qualifying with a mechanical issue.
“Even if we focus on our mirrors and try to keep the people behind, if anything happens in front, we will try to take the opportunity.”
Verstappen will have to recover from 15th on the grid, should he not incur any further penalties for new components.
The Dutchman won from 14th on the grid at last year’s Belgian Grand Prix, and Alonso expects Verstappen to finish on the podium “at a minimum”.
“Yes, I think so, I think Max will come eventually in the race,” he added. “They have this advantage. I don’t know which race it was last year, he started last or changed the power unit but he even won the race. Tomorrow, there’s no doubt he will be on the podium probably, minimum.
“As I said, this is not our goal when we launched the car on the 13th of February. I remember a conversation with Mike Krack, Lance, the senior management of the team setting the goals for this year and the goals were not fighting Red Bull for the win tomorrow so let’s keep it simple.
“Let’s keep the feet on the ground and don’t make any mistakes. Even if we’re competitive we can’t leave this kinds of weekends that are so good for us with no points.”