“Max Verstappen fends off rival for top F1 podium after Bahrain GP Heroics; “I hope he wins”

MAX VERSTAPEN has tipped Fernando Alonso to challenge for race wins this season.

The Aston Martin driver claimed his 99th career podium in an impressive campaign in the Formula 1 season opener in Bahrain.

Fernando Alonso is being backed to win races this seasonCredit: Rex

Max Verstappen believes Aston Martin has a

Max Verstappen believes Aston Martin has a “really strong” carCredit: Rex

The Silverstone-based team surprised many by topping the timesheets in pre-race testing and free practice.

And this blistering pace has seen Verstappen tip Alonso to challenge him for a place at the top of the podium.

Verstappen said: “Hopefully it’s the same for Fernando because he’s had a couple of years where he didn’t really have the chance to fight at the front, so I’m happy to see him sitting here already in the first race.

“I think again, I’ve mentioned it before, but at Aston Martin they really have the spirit and the drive, they want to win and they’ve hired very good people.

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“So I guess it can only get better for them. And I think for this year it’s hard to say if they’re going to challenge for the championship, but race wins are definitely on the table.”

However, the Dutchman believes race wins will be limited for Alonso and drew comparisons with Lewis Hamilton during his dominance in the race.

Verstappen added: “I’ve been in the same position where some races I finish 20-40 seconds behind the winners and you still win two or three races a year.

“Sometimes there are certain tracks that really suit your car and everything just comes together and you can win a race, maybe sometimes with a little bit of help or luck.

“But without a doubt they (Aston Martin) have a really strong package. And now, of course, it’s all about developing it further.”

Two-time F1 champion Emerson Fittipaldi has also backed Alonso to mount a “very strong” title challenge.

Alonso is already a two-time world champion, winning titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006.

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