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Rivals play down Aston Martin challenge after strong testing start

Aston Martin have turned heads with a strong start to testing, but rival squads have played down the challenge.

Aston Martin's Formula 1 midfield rivals have played down the team's strong start to pre-season testing in Bahrain. Fernando Alonso popped in the second fastest time on the opening day, falling short of pace-setter Max Verstappen by 0.029s after a late run. The two-time World Champion also could have gone fastest later in the session, but ran wide exiting the final corner, losing time, before impressing again on the second day of testing, logging the third fastest time. Despite the strong start and the team's ambitions to move up the grid, major midfield rivals Alpine and McLaren were quick to play down the challenge.

McLaren and Alpine cool over Aston

"I'm nervous about everybody in the midfield, it's not just Aston we have got to beat," Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer explained to media, including RacingNews365 . "With regulations that are stable, everyone gets closer together and then it is other things that matter - you've got to do a lot of things right to be top of the midfield. "So it is not just Aston, I'm worried about everybody. "We just have to continue to do the job that we're capable of, focus on the things we can control and race well, and I think we'll come out on top." Szafnauer's comments were echoed by McLaren's Zak Brown - with his team having a mixed start to the campaign. "They look strong, obviously Fernando is an awesome talent so to have him in the car will help drive the team forward. "But there's 10 teams on the grid, us being one of them, and we've got to race them all." Let us know through the poll and in the comments section below what you think Aston Martin can achieve in 2023!

RESULTS 2024 F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix - Qualifying