Alonso calm after leading Bahrain GP practice: 'It's very early days'

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Fernando Alonso played down his fastest time in Bahrain Grand Prix practice, insisting it is "very early days".

The hype around the Spaniard and Aston Martin only continues to build after Alonso led the two Red Bulls by almost two-tenths under the lights at Sakhir on Friday.

Not only that, but Fernando's long-run pace was also a match for Max Verstappen and the other leaders, leaving many to wonder what might just be possible for the double world champion this weekend.

"It's another step in the right direction, the car still feels good," Alonso said calmly.

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"I mean, we need to wait and see. At the moment there is not much focus still on times because we have to improve a few things on the car, in terms of setup, but also, it's very early days.

"We still, even in the meetings, on the approach to racing, we're still changing out of things and trying to reinforce the team in every area, not only on the car performance. So it's going to be a very interesting process but I think the team is learning every day.

"Let's see what happens in the first couple of races. At the moment it's good test sessions, but I don't know."

Alonso agreed to join Aston Martin from Alpine in 2023 mere hours after making contact with team owner Lawrence Stroll following Sebastian Vettel's retirement announcement last July.

Alonso Stroll

And the 41-year-old highlighted the entrepreneur's desire for success as a key reason for his decision.

"I think Lawrence has this vision on everything he does," he explained. "And you know, it's very difficult to see Lawrence Stroll fail on anything that he has in his vision.

"I think it is a matter of time that Aston Martin could challenge top teams.

"We are, as I said, in a very interesting process with a completely new car, new technical department and a lot of things that we are learning, but I think it's still a long way to go."