The two-time champion was fortunate to come away from the opening lap of his Aston Martin debut unscathed after receiving a whack to the rear-right from Lance Stroll, as the team-mates already engaged in their own respective duels with the Mercedes duo.

Fifth-starting Alonso then came to the fore in the final stint as he maximised his hard tyres to chase after Lewis Hamilton, executing a precise pass on his former McLaren stablemate with an unlikely overtake on the inside into the tight Turn 10 left-hander to gain fourth.

The Spaniard then pursued compatriot Carlos Sainz, the pair also narrowly avoiding contact, before Alonso picked off the Ferrari with DRS into Turn 11 to land an “unreal” third place.

Marking the second podium of Aston’s modern era, with four-time champion Sebastian Vettel having finished runner-up in the 2021 Azerbaijan GP, Alonso said: “[It’s] amazing for the team. It was a great weekend.

“Finishing on the podium in the first race of the year. It is just amazing what Aston Martin did over the winter to have the second-best car on race one. This is just unreal.”

Fernando Alonso at Bahrain GP 2023

Alonso lamented his opening lap, when he was squeezed out by Hamilton down to seventh on the run to Turn 4 after enjoying a strong initial getaway.

But on overhauling the Mercedes and both Ferraris, with Charles Leclerc retiring with a late engine failure, Alonso added: “Obviously, I would love to start in front of them and then use the pace.

“But we had not the best start today. We had to pass on track. It felt a little bit more exciting. More adrenaline for sure. People enjoy it. We did enjoy [it] as well.”

Alonso also paid tribute to Stroll, who returned from his pre-season cycling incident in Spain to race with a pinned wrist and broken toe to bag sixth place.

“First of all, I think congrats to Lance, my team-mate," he said. "He had the surgery 12 days ago and now he's fighting right with everybody.”