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Why Verstappen hopes Alonso can challenge for championship

Fernando Alonso proved to be Red Bull's closest competitor in the Bahrain Grand Prix, and Max Verstappen hopes to see the Spaniard battling at the front throughout the season.

Max Verstappen admits that he "hopes" to see Fernando Alonso as a contender for the F1 championship after the Spaniard's performance in the Bahrain Grand Prix. It was a comfortable win for Red Bull in the season-opening event, with Verstappen clinching victory while teammate Sergio Perez made it a 1-2 result. After Charles Leclerc retired from a potential podium result due to mechanical issues, Alonso proved to be the squad's nearest challenger and beat the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes to finish in third. When asked if he would like to see Alonso battle for the title in 2023, Verstappen suggested that he would be glad to see the two-time World Champion at the front after some difficult seasons for him. "I hope so for Fernando as well, because he has had a few years where there was not really a possibility to fight at the front," Verstappen told media, including RacingNews365.com . "So I'm happy to see him sitting here already in race one."

Verstappen praises Aston Martin's 'spirit'

With Alonso and Lance Stroll finishing in P3 and P6 respectively for Aston Martin, Verstappen spoke highly of the British outfit. "At Aston Martin they really have the spirit and drive, they want to win and they've hired a lot of good people," he commented. "So I guess it can only get better for them." The Dutchman would not rule out the possibility of Alonso's team claiming some victories during the 2023 campaign. "For this year, [it's] difficult to say if they're going to challenge for the championship, but race wins are definitely on the table," Verstappen continued. "I've been in the same position where some races I'm finishing 20 to 40 seconds behind the winners and you still win two or three races a year, because sometimes there are some tracks which really suit your car and everything just comes together and you can win a race with maybe sometimes a bit of help or luck. "But for sure they have a really strong package, and now of course it's all about developing it further."

Perez: Anything can happen

Perez was similarly pleased to see Alonso and Aston Martin succeed in Bahrain, and the Mexican expects the team – whom he raced for in their days as Force India/Racing Point – to pose a challenge at certain tracks. "I'm first of all very happy to see Aston and Fernando up here," Perez said. "I think it's been a tremendous effort and it's great to see Fernando in his first race for the team on the podium. "I think they certainly have a very good car. They will be a contender for sure in a few tracks. "The seasons in Formula 1 are extremely long, so anything can happen."

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