Alonso takes sly dig at Hamilton and Mercedes at Australian Grand Prix
Fernando Alonso does not believe the W14 is as bad as Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes make it out to be after the team’s performance in Australian Grand Prix qualifying. The Silver Arrows pairing of George Russell and Hamilton will line up second and third respectively in Melbourne with the car looking to have taken a step up from the opening two races.
Mercedes have struggled in 2023 so far with both Hamilton and team principal Toto Wolff both heavily criticising the W14’s concept with the team pledging to scrap it just one race in. The revamped car is not expected until Imola but the performance in qualifying at Albert Park suggested the situation may not be as bad as they first feared.
The Silver Arrows were best of the rest behind the dominant Red Bull of Max Verstappen in Saturday’s session ahead of the Aston Martin of Alonso. The outspoken Spaniard was quick to give his opinion on the current state of the Mercedes car suggesting it was much better than Hamilton and the team tried to claim.
“They were definitely very fast in Jeddah already and they were fast in FP2,” Alonso told Sky Sports. “They are always fast. If you read their comments it seems like they have a car that is out of Q3, but it is a fast car.”
Alonso’s view was also supported by fellow countryman Carlos Sainz. The Ferrari man lines up fifth for Sunday’s Grand Prix and suggested there was no way his team could match the pace of Mercedes.
“They’re a lot faster than people think and especially in the race,” Sainz explained. “They had a pace very close to Fernando in Jeddah and they were both going flat out. We couldn’t keep up with them. That car is quick, clearly not as quick as the Red Bull because no one is, and when they put qualifying together they can be a very strong package.”
Hamilton was in a more upbeat mood following his qualifying performance, admitting that he had already set his sights on challenging Verstappen for the race win.
“This is totally unexpected,” he explained after the session. “Really proud of the team. George did an amazing job there today so for us to be up on the front two rows is honestly a dream for us.
“We are all working as hard as we can to get right back up to the front so to be this close to Red Bull is incredible. Hopefully tomorrow we can give them a run for their money and we hope the weather is good.
“I am super grateful for this position and I am just going to work as hard as I can tomorrow. (My goal) is to get to first.”
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