Fernando Alonso fires Saudi warning to Hamilton and Russell

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Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso fired a warning to Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and George Russell as he dismissed the chances of challenging Red Bull in Jeddah. The 41-year-old Spaniard showed his experience to guide Aston Martin to a third placed finish in Bahrain two weeks ago and is hoping for a repeat result at today’s Saudi Arabia Grand Prix.

In Bahrain the two-time world champion qualified fifth fastest before passing both Ferraris to finish a clear third almost 10 seconds ahead of the battle between his rivals. In Jeddah qualifying Alonso was one-tenth of a second faster than Russell, who qualified third fastest, with Hamilton starting seventh on the grid and having work to do.

Alonso sent an ominous warning to both Mercedes drivers and feels there is more to come from his car. He said: “It has been a very good weekend for us. Qualifying was our weak point in Bahrain, but today the car seemed to perform very well on one lap.

“The long run yesterday was affected by traffic, but the car felt very strong. Still I think the strongest point of the car is the long-run pace and how we treat the tyres, so it should be better on Sunday than Saturday.”

Alonso has dismissed challenging pace setter Perez who was clearly fastest in qualifying while reigning world champion Max Verstappen will need to work his way through traffic after suffering a mechanical failure. Despite starting 15th on the grid Verstappen will remain a threat from behind after being fastest in Q1 until having his pole hopes dashed and team-mate Perez took advantage

Alonso has dismissed his chances of battling with Red Bull for pace but says that anything can happen. He added: “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.

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“I think our race is just behind us. We saw today Max (Verstappen) 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.

“That’s not the target tomorrow, to fight for the win with Checo (Perez). But as I said before Formula 1 is not exact mathematics, anything can happen and today, Verstappen was P15. These things happen sometimes.”

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