Pedro de la Rosa says it is now “impossible” to try to play down the hype surrounding Aston Martin and Fernando Alonso in 2023.
After a winter of speculation about the Silverstone based team’s chances, and an eye-opening performance at the pre-season test, Alonso confirmed the hype by beating Max Verstappen to top spot in Bahrain practice.
“Is this the reality?” de la Rosa, a close confidante of fellow Spaniard Alonso’s and a new team ambassador, told Cadena SER radio in Bahrain.
“I don’t know, I want to think so, but we are going to keep our feet on the ground. But my job is to contain this euphoria that is being experienced now and it is proving impossible,” he smiled.
After Friday practice, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton admitted that Red Bull is fastest, “the Aston Martin is second and Ferrari and us are between third and fourth”.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc agrees, declaring that he doesn’t have “the necessary performance” for pole position.
“It is still early, but I think Aston Martin was a bit quicker than they will be on Saturday,” he said. “We don’t know, it’s just what I think.”
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said the new green Aston Martin and Alonso in particular are “on fire”.
“It just shows that it is possible to take a jump from the midfield to potentially further up. But of course, we’ve only had a small snapshot,” he said.
Indeed, Dr Helmut Marko says Verstappen struggled on Friday with a sudden handling problem “that we can’t explain”.
“Strangely, it’s just on the one car, although both were set up the same way,” said the top Red Bull official.
As for Alonso topping the timesheet, Marko added: “We’re better in the long runs. Alonso’s tyres degraded more at the rear than ours did.”