Alonso: 'Encouraging' test 'just a start' with big Aston Martin upgrades planned

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Fernando Alonso says Aston Martin's "encouraging" form in testing is "just a start" with big upgrades planned during 2023.

The Silverstone-based team head into this weekend's Formula 1 season opener in Bahrain as a dark horse, with many tipping Alonso for a potential podium.

But while the double world champion was keen to play down expectations, he believes Aston Martin are in a great place to make progress this year.

“I have no idea where we are in terms of position," he said of Aston's place in the pecking order on Thursday.

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"With this car, the aim was to make a step forward, which I think we did. It was very encouraging, the results from the test, and the feeling from the car, but this is just a start.

“This car will change dramatically during the season, that’s the plan. Again, I heard from the team that two-thirds of this car will change during the season.

“We want to have a good baseline, a good platform to develop the car during 2023, and maybe fight for something bigger next year, but it’s step by step.”

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Alonso was also buoyed by the news of new teammate Lance Stroll's return to action this weekend in Bahrain, after the Canadian missed testing with a wrist injury.

“It’s already very good news that he’s here and he will try [to race] – that shows his desire to win and motivation to win," the double world champion commented.

"Fighting for whatever position we can achieve this weekend, he’s here and ready to try, so that’s a very good sign.

“In my case, yes, I broke a few bones in both hands last year [in Australia], so until August I was not fully recovered and had some pain, but we love driving!”

After testing, Alonso admitted he missed Stroll's feedback to draw a direct comparison between the 2022 Aston Martin and this year's car.

However, he did reveal there was constant communication with the 24-year-old.

“We’ve been in contact from day one," the Spaniard explained. "Lance was updated on everything during the test. We spoke with him during the lunch breaks and also in evening sessions.

“He was at the simulator the last few days as well, giving us feedback. We were on the same page basically in real-time.”