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Fernando Alonso

Alonso expecting 'normal' Aston Martin Sunday service to resume in Japan

Fernando Alonso will start from a superb fifth on the Suzuka grid for the Japanese GP.

Alonso Japan
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Fernando Alonso declared himself "happy and proud" of Aston Martin's performance in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix but is fully expecting normal service to resume on Sunday.

Alonso secured a superb fifth on the grid in his AMR24, finishing half a second behind polesitter Max Verstappen, and two-tenths adrift of McLaren's Lando Norris in third.

The two-time F1 champion, though, believes his position to be a false one in comparison to what he anticipates will unfold in the race with a drop down the field.

In Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, where Alonso started sixth and fourth respectively, he finished ninth and fifth. In Australia, after starting 10th he climbed to eighth, albeit aided by three retirements to cars ahead of him on the grid in Melbourne in Verstappen and Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.

Anticipating his prospects at Suzuka, where he starts ahead of McLaren's Oscar Piastri, Hamilton, Russell and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, Alonso said: "I tend to be conservative on my guesses and predictions, but looking back at the first three races, we were very strong on Saturday, not so strong on Sunday.

"We are maybe out of position being top five, so if I am overtaken by Oscar and and the two Mercedes or something like that, this is normal, and we will fall back to our position.

"Let's see what we can do. I'm very open to whatever the race brings to us. I'm extremely proud and happy of today's job and tomorrow is another day."

That 'job' involved the team adopting the upgrade package to the car overnight, one which team-mate Lance Stroll had started the weekend, with major updates to the sidepods, floor and engine cover.

As to whether the upgrade was an improvement, he said: "I think so. Difficult to know for sure. The team is analysing everything.

"Yesterday [Friday practice] I had the old package, today the new package, so I I guess tonight we will have all the data to confirm that and to quantify the improvement.

"But everything felt good in qualifying, better than expected to be that competitive, to be honest. There's a couple of hundredths to Ferrari [Carlos Sainz], a McLaren behind us, and Mercedes.

"We were here six months ago and we were 1.5 seconds from pole position, and now we are four tenths, so definitely we're moving in the right direction."

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