De la Rosa plays down Alonso’s Saudi pace

Fri, 8 March 2024, 08:00

Mar.8 (GMM) Pedro de la Rosa, an Aston Martin team ambassador and close confidante of Fernando Alonso’s, played down the Spaniard’s top time in Jeddah free practice.

“It’s just practice,” Alonso, sponsored by Saudi oil company Aramco, warned, alluding to different engine modes and fuel loads that the various teams run in practice.

Indeed, Red Bull’s dominant Max Verstappen did not seem worried about the few-tenths deficit.

“I guess the others used a little more power, just like they did a week ago,” said the Dutchman, who admits that Red Bull’s 2024 car really “comes to life” over longer runs.

“As far as the long runs go, I’m pretty happy,” said Verstappen.

The actual grands prix, of course, are all about ‘long run’ pace, and it’s in that area that de la Rosa admits Aston Martin and Alonso still lag.

“I haven’t seen the long runs in depth yet,” he told DAZN, “but they haven’t been that good.

“We cannot compare ourselves with Red Bull, that’s clear. Their long run was really spectacular. But it was also spectacular in Bahrain,” de la Rosa added.

However, Red Bull’s famous advisor Dr Helmut Marko says the team is keeping an eye on Ferrari – and he insists that McLaren was “short-changed” in Bahrain.

“It’s a fast circuit and everything is close together,” he told Kleine Zeitung. “The temperatures and conditions on the day will also play a decisive role.”

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