Fernando Alonso admits there is an element of frustration building after he finished in third place for the fourth time in five races in 2023 at the Miami Grand Prix.
The two-time Formula 1 champion has enjoyed an astonishing start to his debut campaign with Aston Martin as the Silverstone side has emerged as a surprise front-running threat.
Having qualified on the front row for the second time this year in Miami, Alonso proceeded to follow that up with another trip to the podium ceremony alongside the dominant Red Bull duo.
While he has previously declared Aston Martin is a year ahead of schedule on its plan to compete for World Championships, Alonso concedes he hopes to have the opportunity at some point this season to finish higher than third.
But the Spaniard, who has now gone 10 years since his last victory in F1, recognises that Red Bull is untouchable and states Aston Martin must ensure it continues to be the second force in case the reigning champions happen to slip up.
Asked if it was irritating to stand on the third step of the rostrum again, Alonso responded: “It is! It is. Obviously, we want to step on [a] step higher on the podium for P2 and eventually one day we have an opportunity to win a race – but at the moment it didn’t happen because Red Bull is better than us.
“It’s stronger, it’s faster and the reliability has been always outstanding for them as well, finishing both cars in every race. So, yeah, if one day there is a crack there, if there is an opportunity, we need to make sure we are in that position and we’re still not making mistakes at any point in the weekend.
Red Bull’s Miami GP triumph marked its fifth win of the year and fourth consecutive 1-2 finish, with the RB19 being over 20s clear of its nearest challenger in every race that has ended under green flag racing conditions.
Alonso, therefore, anticipates it being unrealistic to expect Aston Martin to beat Red Bull on merit at any stage this year and emphasises that Aston Martin’s main fight is with Ferrari and Mercedes for second place.
“I think the year is going to be difficult,” he replied when asked about the potential to achieve his 33rd career win this year. “The gap is quite big even though I think today has been our best race pace yet in the season.
“We finish, I think, closest to the leaders, no Safety Cars, nothing in the race and we’re still quite fast. So let’s see. I think the season is going to be long.
“Hopefully some of the tracks we will be a little bit closer to them. And some of the upgrades that we will bring later in the season maybe put us in a different or more competitive position.
“But I think our main focus, to be honest, is just looking behind and trying to keep Mercedes and Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship under control.
“But I think Red Bull, we have to accept they are doing a better job than everyone else and we need to do a better job,” he added.
Next up on Formula 1’s radar is a return to the iconic Imola venue for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix and a circuit where Alonso has triumphed previously.
However, the Oviedo-born racer predicts an intense duel between the trio of teams behind Red Bull, with Ferrari and Mercedes set to introduce upgrades in Italy.
“I think in Imola it’s going to be an interesting fight again,” the double World Champion considers. “As you said, a lot of teams will bring upgrades to the car. Mercedes, probably Ferrari as well and we will try to keep finishing in front of them on Sunday.”
Despite Alonso making another trip to the podium in green, Aston Martin lost ground to its main rivals in Miami after Lance Stroll failed to score a single point.
The Canadian was eliminated from the first stage of qualifying and could only battle back to 12th place in Sunday’s race.
With Mercedes managing to get both cars home inside the top six, Aston Martin now leads its engine supplier by only six points as F1 prepares to embark on its traditional European leg of the calendar.
Ferrari, meanwhile, sit a further 18 points behind Mercedes in fourth, having struggled on race day in the Sunshine State.