Aston Martin F1 should not apologise for being “too fast” in qualifying

The Spaniard has proved the progress that his squad is making as he emerged from qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix in third position as Red Bull’s closest rival.

And although the characteristics of his AMR24 car, which appears better in single-lap pace than long runs, means he is not expecting to hold on to his place in the Shanghai race, he says it is a situation he and the team cannot be too unhappy about.

“I expect a difficult race,” he said. “We are slower than the Ferraris, slower than the McLarens and probably the Mercedes. We are outqualifying them often and then in the race we just need to wait and see when they come, how fast they come and how many laps we can defend those positions.

“It happened so far in the first four races, so I guess this fifth race is going to be no different. So yeah, I expect a race that is going to be difficult for us.

“But we can’t say sorry for being too fast in qualifying, so let’s take it.”

Alonso had run third for most of the Shanghai sprint, as he held off the attacking Ferraris until the closing stages.

It has opened the prospect of an intense battle to keep Red Bull’s most consistent challenger back again in the race.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz said he was braced for a pretty tough time for the Maranello squad in recovering from a difficult qualifying, as he ended up seventh on the grid, one spot behind team-mate Charles Leclerc.

Asked about the chances of gunning for the front, Sainz said: “I think we need to focus on more than the Red Bull and just see how, in terms of race pace, we can overcome the two McLarens and the Aston.

“They’ve shown better pace over one lap this weekend, but over a full race distance I am hoping we will get our chances. The problem is it’s three cars to overtake.

“Normally in a race, like if look at me in Suzuka — to overtake Lando I had to extend two stints to get one car. To overtake three cars you really need to show proper race pace so it will be tricky, because you wear a lot the tyres while trying to overtake one car, then you need to overtake another… So let’s see.

“My feeling is we can come back, but we need to show much better pace than [the sprint].”

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