Fernando Alonso has played down the ‘surprise’ element of Mercedes’ Australian GP qualifying performance, with Aston Martin driver believing their pace has been played down too much. George Russell and Lewis Hamilton will line up second and third for the Melbourne race ahead of Alonso, who had been suggested as an outside contender for Pole Position. When asked by Sky if he had been surprised to be out-qualified by the Mercedes drivers, Alonso responded: “Not really. I think they were very fast in Jeddah already, and they were fast in FP2, and they are always fast. “If you read their comments, it seems that they have a car that is out of Q3, but it’s not that bad!” Alonso pins hopes on Mercedes to stop Verstappen When asked about his prospects for the race, the Aston Martin driver believed that, despite the “unknown” race pace, Pole Position winner Max Verstappen could be set for a “boring race” to victory if he is unchallenged at the start. “I think there are many unknowns going into the race after missing FP2, and also the temperature I think is going to be very different tomorrow, at least supposed to be sunny,” commented Alonso. “I think in terms of strategy and race preparation, I think no one is fully ready yet so I think tomorrow is a race that we will discover who has better pace and better management and things like that. “Let’s see at least if the Mercedes can make a good start and stop Max somehow. If not, it’s going to be a boring race for him.”

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