Alonso denies podium target but rivals say Aston Martin 'in the mix'

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Fernando Alonso says a podium finish is not the target for this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix.

Expectations are very high after an impressive pre-season test, with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff even predicting Aston Martin could challenge Ferrari for second in the pecking order behind Red Bull.

As a result, a possible top-three finish could be on the cards, but Alonso tried his best to play down such hopes.

“We will give our best in the race,” the Spaniard said via Motorsport Week. “That [a podium finish] is not the target for us, to be honest.

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“I think we need to keep learning about the car, only one day and a half or two days of testing on a completely new car, new package.

“The top three teams, they were in another league last year," Alonso noted, "they were lapping sometimes even the fourth [fastest] team.

“So, we cannot make that kind of step only in one winter. I think we are very happy with the car, but I think we have to have the feet in the ground and keep working on this good baseline.”

Drivers from the established top three teams though have been sure to highlight the threat Alonso and Aston Martin pose.

“I think they will be in the mix,” Ferrari's Charles Leclerc said. “They will definitely fight at the top at least, I think."

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“They looked very positive," world champion Max Verstappen agreed. "In general, if you look at the team, they have a real desire, of course of getting to the front.

“They’ve hired I think quite a lot of good people. So it will be interesting to see where they will be but also not only now, it’s in the coming races and years, but I think they had a very positive start.”

Alonso though believes Aston Martin's potential will only be known after the first three races.

“You never know what the others are doing, so basically you concentrate on your program,” he said.

“Let’s see after this race, basically after Jeddah or Australia, I think very different circuits, where I think you will see more where everybody is.

“But yeah, I think we aimed to make a step forward compared to last year.

"Obviously, Aston Martin went through some difficulties with the car and some things that they discovered throughout 2022, so I think this year we have a better baseline, and we are happy so far.”