F1: Alonso, second in free practice in Saudi Arabia, fuels optimism | Formula 1 | Sports
Two weeks after the bombing that Aston Martin gave in Bahrain, the echo of the hubbub caused by Fernando Alonso’s podium in the first round of the Formula 1 World Cup is still being felt in Jeddah, where this Sunday (6:00 p.m., Dazn ) will take place the second stop on the calendar and what, for many, especially for the Silverstone team (Great Britain), will be the cotton test. There are several elements that recommend not completely trusting the film shown in Sakhir 15 days ago, even though that race also offered an absolute truth: no one doubts the superiority of Red Bull, which won the first double with Max Verstappen (winner ) and Checo Pérez (second). Disputing the premiere of the championship on the same stage in which the only batch of winter group rehearsals took place a few days before can slightly distort the real image of things, which will become clearer with the advance of the grand prizes. That, and the very high level of abrasion of the asphalt of the circuit are factors that, combined, could have had a great influence on the performance of the single-seaters. Precisely for this reason, the conclusions that can be drawn when the test in Saudi Arabia ends will be much more significant.
The role of favorite for victory falls back to Red Bull, while the order of those who should form the chasing group of the red buffaloes is not so clear. Ferrari’s mistreatment of tires penalized the ‘Scuderia’ two weeks ago, not to mention the firecracker from Charles Leclerc’s car (he abandoned when the third was in circulation), which this Saturday (6:00 p.m., DAZN) will face its first penalty ten positions on the grid by resorting to the third unit of the control unit that controls engine power. In Mercedes, for their part, they are involved in a tremendous gibberish, without knowing very well in which direction to go. Thus, who follows his own is Aston Martin, waiting to see how the AMR23 behaves on a track with different profiles. With the impression of having a good base thanks to the mixture provided by the solvency of the engine, the gearbox and the rear suspension of Mercedes, and the aerodynamics inspired by Red Bull, the Asturian believes that drawing any conclusion from the green car is premature before to see how he performs in Australia, venue of the third race (April 9).
The first stop along the way is found in Jeddah, the second fastest circuit in the event –only surpassed by Monza–, where the fast corners gain prominence over the slow ones.
“Both here and in Australia we are challenged to see how our car performs. The last two preseasons were different. This time we only trained in Bahrain and we raced there too”, agrees Alonso, already from Saudi Arabia, where Aston Martin will have Lance Stroll at practically 100% of his physical faculties, after having recovered from the fractures that conditioned him in his debut ( finished sixth).
The photograph that leaves the first day of free practice in Jeddah underlines the dominance of Red Bull and its RB19 even more, while inviting us to imagine a much more open brawl behind the energy structure. Verstappen led both sessions on Friday; the first ahead of the neighbor of his workshop and with Alonso, the third; and the second after leading the Spaniard by two tenths, whose best turn was less than one tenth faster than that of the Mexican. George Russell placed the first of the Mercedes in fifth place, while Leclerc finished ninth and Carlos Sainz, tenth, already one second behind ‘Mad Max’.
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