Fernando Alonso rued heading a “bit blind into qualifying” for the United States Grand Prix after Aston Martin endured a double Q1 elimination.

Neither Aston Martin driver was able to progress beyond the opening segment on Friday, marking the side’s worst qualifying session of the entire season to date.

Alonso attributed his first failure to reach Q3 this year down to being sent out too late for his final run, resulting in him encountering major traffic problems on his out lap.

Asked if there was more capable in the car than the 17th position he mustered, Alonso said: “No it was the maximum.

“The lap was not ideal – the out lap especially the traffic was very bad to manage. I think I crossed the line within one second of the limit, so I started the lap too close to the cars in front. So that didn’t help but that lap felt OK, and the pace was maybe not good enough to get into Q2.

“Let’s see tomorrow if we can do a good Sprint because Sunday’s race is heavily compromised now.”

In a bid to rediscover its early-season momentum, Aston Martin elected to press ahead with bringing upgrades this weekend despite the presence of the Sprint format.

However, the British marque’s sole practice hour ahead of qualifying was hampered by a brake fire issue on both cars, limiting Alonso and team-mate Lance Stroll on track time.

Amid its problems earlier in the day, Alonso outlines that Aston Martin was unable to identify an optimal set-up before entering qualifying with its newly revised package.

“We should go back and complete the day completely,” he underlined.

“Starting from the morning we had a terrible session. Lance didn’t complete any laps, I only did six or seven quality laps with the new package.

“Too many unknowns in terms of how to operate the package and the new car so I think we went a little bit blind into qualifying and obviously we see the result.”

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Aston Martin F1 Team. 20.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin, Texas, USA, Qualifying Day

With the cars now locked into parc ferme conditions, Alonso insists that Aston Martin should opt to utilise the rest of the race weekend as a test session for next year.

“So nothing we can do now, we are in parc ferme,” he acknowledged.

“We use these weekends as a test for next year as well, even if they are painful, so let’s see what we can learn in the remaining sessions.”

Stroll had only circulated for five laps in practice, significantly hampering his attempts to avoid a fifth successive Q1 exit.

But the Canadian, who qualified as high as seventh last year, insists that struggles with the handling of his AMR23 were not to blame for him clocking the second slowest time.

“It didn’t feel like it was a bad session,” he said. “I actually felt okay with the car, even after no running in FP1 I felt like I got to grips with the car pretty quickly. But we just weren’t quick enough.”

Asked if he was hoping for more with the upgrades, Stroll admitted: “Yeah, I was hoping for more, for sure.”

Unlike Alonso, Stroll isn’t ruling out recovering the lost ground on Sunday, citing that the track configuration at the Circuit of the Americas does encourage overtaking.

“There’s definitely opportunity here on Sunday, so let’s see what we can do,” he concluded.

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