Fernando Alonso continued his excellent run of form on this weekend’s Canadian GP – having finished in the top five in all three practice sessions prior to qualifying – with an even better result of second place in qualifying, behind only the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, by a margin of 0.645s.
Speaking after qualifying, Alonso was happy that the wet conditions meant his Alpine team could sustain their strong Friday form in Saturday qualifying. He said on the radio to his team the car was “very driveable” and sustained those remarks afterwards, saying he was “very comfortable” driving his A522 to a front row spot for Sunday’s Canadian GP:
“It feels great. It was an unbelievable weekend for us so far, we were competitive from free practice – which we normally are on Friday – but then on Saturday we seem to lose a little bit of pace. But thanks to the wet conditions today, the car was mega.
“I was so comfortable with driving this car. I think the fans also pushed me, some extra push.”
This is Alonso’s highest starting position since the 2012 German GP in Hockenheim, which also had a wet qualifying. Asked whether he can take the fight to Red Bull and Verstappen in the race, Alonso said “it would be sweet” to lead and that he’ll attack Verstappen on the opening lap:
“Let’s see. I think we’ll attack Max (Verstappen) on the first corner.
“The goal is to lead the race in Lap 1, so Turn 1 maximum attack!
“Then after that they (Red Bull and Ferrari) can go and they can fight but it would be sweet to lead the race.”
However, the Spaniard knows he probably won’t have the raw pace to fight with the faster Red Bull and Ferrari cars – even with Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc way out of their usual positions - and hopes he can bag a fifth place finish, which would be “like a win” according to him:
“I’m not sure what are the possibilities tomorrow, realistically. I would say the top five is what we should fight for.
“We have a very good starting position but we know our limitations and we’ve seen races where Red Bull or Ferrari are starting last or having a puncture on Lap 1 and they still finish with a good margin in front of us.
“I think the top four places are locked, so fifth is like a win for us and that is probably the spot we should aim for.
“It’s good to start in the front row, it has been a pretty competitive weekend. The car has kept improving in the last few races with the new parts. But I think that our realistic position is not in the top five.
“Let’s try to have a clean race, execute a good strategy, good tyre management and score as many points as possible. To think about the win is completely unrealistic,” he concluded.