Fernando Alonso has suggested that Aston Martin wasn't ready to compete against top Formula 1 teams following its dip in form during this past season.
Aston Martin began the year in strong fashion as Alonso scored six podiums in the opening eight races.
Its improvement through the winter break came as a surprise as it ended the previous campaign in 2022 seventh in the Constructors' Championship.
However as the season wore on, Aston Martin fell away from podium-contending competition and ended the season fifth in the standings.
Despite its drop-off in form, Alonso asserted that there are little negatives to take from Aston Martin's campaign.
“I see only positives,” Alonso told media including Racingnews365. “Those struggles are part of the job and I'm part of the journey of this team.
“I think we started really strong with the car that it was surprisingly competitive, even to us with the step from last year to this year.
“We found ourselves maybe in a position that we were not ready for, fighting with Mercedes, Ferrari, the top teams who they are used to fighting at that level.
“We maybe stepped back a little bit in terms of development also in the car during the season, we are not at the top level yet. And we found ourselves a little bit less competitive.
“But all in all, I think it was unthinkable 12 months ago, at this stage to think about the campaign we did, I remember perfectly the test last year after the race here [in Abu Dhabi] with the team.
“If someone told me that we would be in this position that we are today, I would not believe it.”
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Best season since 2012
Alonso labelled the year as his best in F1 alongside 2012 when he challenged Sebastian Vettel for the Drivers' Championship as part of the Ferrari squad.
“With the personal performance, I think, together with 2012 it’s the best season for me, the best season in my driving, and I was happy with with everything.
“I was motivated, I was fit. [I was happy with] the performance in difficult conditions sometimes.”
The Spaniard also listed his top five events of the campaign, which includes a Grand Prix at which Alonso failed to finish on the podium.
“Bahrain, Monaco, Canada, Monza, and Brazil will be my top five of the year. And I put Monza on purpose because it was a ninth place. It was not a podium, it was nothing that people will remember.
“But probably we had the slowest car in Monza, or the second slowest. And to be in the points, it was one of those weekends when everything was very good.”