Fernando Alonso is a ‘real threat’ to Max Verstappen

Aston Martin are seen by many as a potential challenger for the victory this weekend, after sensational pace during pre-season testing.

Aston Martin’s pre-season pace is certainly no fluke, with Fernando Alonso having topped Free Practice 2 at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

The double World Champion looked exceptional on the opening day of the season at the Bahrain International Circuit, with him having finished Free Practice 1 in second before topping FP2.

The conditions in FP2 were almost identical to what the drivers will be faced with come qualifying and the race, suggesting that Alonso will be a contender for not only pole position but potentially even for the race victory.

Aston Martin had been tipped by many to be a possible contender this weekend after they showed exceptional pace during pre-season testing, with Alonso’s pace on Friday having provided further evidence that the Silverstone-based team will be a real podium challenger this season.

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Qualifying will be the moment, though, when the true pecking order is discovered, given that all the teams will be on fresh Soft tyres with minimal fuel onboard.

Remarkably, Alonso currently looks set to be Sergio Pérez’s and Max Verstappen’s biggest threat, with Pérez having topped FP1 from Alonso and Verstappen.

Verstappen was the closest driver to Alonso in FP2, after posting a time good enough to go 0.167s slower than the 41-year-old.

Pérez was narrowly behind his team-mate in FP2 but did complain to the Milton Keynes-based team that the RB19 was jumping around.

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Charles Leclerc was the top Ferrari in fourth, although, the Monegasque found himself almost half a second behind Alonso, suggesting that the Italians are off the pace, unless they’re continuing to sandbag.

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Somewhat concerningly for Ferrari, Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg finished fifth and was ahead of Carlos Sainz, with the Ferrari customer team having looked very solid under the Bahrain lights.

Lance Stroll claimed sixth in FP2 but struggled to climb out of the car after the session, following a recent surgery on his right wrist, which he broke following a cycling crash in Spain.

Mercedes were all at sea on Friday, with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell having been nowhere near the leading times, with Hamilton in particular having been very downbeat about the side’s chances following FP2.