Fernando Alonso fired a clear warning to Lewis Hamilton that he will provide much stiffer competition for the podium than was the case in Barcelona at the weekend.

The 41-year-old was the crowd favourite at the Spanish Grand Prix and there were some speculating it might be the site of his first Formula 1 victory in a decade. But it proved to be his least successful race of the year so far as he struggled in both qualifying and the race itself.

Alonso could only finish seventh, one place behind team-mate Lance Stroll who beat him for the first time this year. It was the first time all year the Spaniard had finished below fourth and only the second time he has not been stood on the podium after a race.

Carlos Sainz finished higher than his compatriot in fifth, with both Red Bulls also unsurprisingly ahead of him. What would have been more painful was seeing the two Mercedes showing superior pace and leapfrogging Aston Martin in the constructors' standings.

From a personal standpoint, Alonso will not want to be beaten by Hamilton too many times this year. Perhaps that is why he was willing to use such eyebrow-raising language both when speaking about what happened in Barcelona and when looking ahead to the Canadian Grand Prix.

"I'm happy because qualifying was the Achilles heel of the whole weekend," he said after the race. "After starting from so far back, I was able to come back but only so far and both [George] Russell and Checo [Perez] were faster than us today, so there was a lot to do. Then we saved points.

"In terms of the constructors', it's true that Mercedes took some important points from us, but we took points from Ferrari again. In Canada we will bring more stuff, in Silverstone too... It will depend on who brings the improvements.

"Even with a normal time, we would have been on a par with Hamilton [in Barcelona] and maybe we would have had a better chance. I think it's a race and, in Canada, we crush them."

Mercedes are now 18 points ahead of Aston Martin thanks to their double podium. They still have a 34-point lead over Ferrari as Charles Leclerc failed to make it into the points, but will be looking above them rather than below after starting the season with the second fastest car.

2023-06-06T05:06:05Z dg43tfdfdgfd