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Alonso sets high ambitions after top five Bahrain qualifying result

Fernando Alonso has praised the work done by Aston Martin to get them in contention at the sharp end of the grid with Ferrari and Mercedes.

Although it was not the fairytale start to the season with Fernando Alonso snatching pole away from Max Verstappen, the Aston Martin driver still put in a performance that was faster than both Mercedes drivers and not far off Ferrari. Alonso described the qualifying session as "unreal" for the team after he finished just half a second off the best lap from Verstappen. "It was amazing. I mean, the whole weekend has been unreal for us," he told media, including RacingNews365.com . "It was like too good to be true every session and then in qualifying, our expectation was to be around half a second from Red Bull. "I think we have half a second or six tenths from pole position, so we was quite right." Despite the impressive pace throughout the weekend, Alonso believes the team still has work to do to "unlock the potential" for the car. "I don't know even what to say because eight months ago the project was just a [test] bed, but now to be at race one with a completely new car, which I think we need still to unlock a lot of potential to be in the top five, fighting with Ferrari, Mercedes, it seems a little bit unreal."

Alonso: Strange to say we are fighting with Ferrari for podiums

Alonso said the team felt that the top three would be "untouchable" coming into the year given their advantage in 2022, but Aston Martin came into this season with an advantage in the aero development allowance. The result has been a much more competitive car compared to where the team qualified last season, which was P19 and P17. He added: "It feels so strange for me to say that we start P5 and maybe we are aiming for more. "We thought to be honest that the first three teams are untouchable this this year with advantage they had last year, and maybe we try to lead the midfield or mix in the midfield. "But now we're saying that we start P5 and maybe we fight with the Ferrari's for the podium. So this is just incredible."

RESULTS 2024 F1 Chinese Grand Prix - Sprint Shootout