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Qatar GP: Practice team notes - Alpine

NEWS STORY
19/11/2021

Alpine F1 Team had its first experience of the Losail International Circuit today, as preparations got underway for this weekend's first-ever Formula 1 Grand Prix in Qatar.

Embarking on the 5.38km circuit for the first time in their careers, Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso finished eleventh and twelfth respectively on their debuts at the impressive flood lit venue.

In the morning session, Esteban completed 23 laps and finished inside the top ten in ninth place on a 1min 24.972secs, posting his fastest time on the Soft compound.

Fernando's FP1 was a little busier, after he explored the limits of the track a little extensively and ran wide at Turn 15, bouncing over the kerbs on the exit of the corner. His car was checked over during the session and he was able to leave the garage again with just over ten minutes left and finished seventeenth.

As dusk fell for Free Practice 2, both drivers opened the session with Esteban trialling the Hards and Fernando on Mediums. Soon enough they switched to Softs and found themselves sitting around the edge of the top ten on the leaderboard.

On their Soft tyre runs, Esteban's best time, a 1min 24.041secs, was good enough for eleventh, with Fernando only 0.014s down in twelfth. The pair held these positions at the chequered flag and ended their day on long runs in preparation for Sunday's 57-lap race.

Esteban Ocon: "It was a fun Friday discovering this new track. It had some very good surprises for many reasons, so it's been an enjoyable day. The track was high grip and it was very fast and flowing, which was awesome to drive. It brings challenges of places like Sepang and Istanbul rolled into one and that was really good fun to experience. It's challenging for all of us to learn a new track, but the team and I prepared very well so we could be ready straight away. It's about getting the car into the right set-up, finding improvements run by run and seeing what ideas on the car to improve. All in all, it's been a productive one for us today and I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do in qualifying."

Fernando Alonso: "The circuit is really great to drive. I love the layout and how the combination of corners really gives you the feeling and ability to maximise the potential in a Formula 1 car. I was enjoying every lap, so it was a fun Friday. The grip levels were good today especially in FP2 and the car also felt solid in both sessions. We'll see what we can do tomorrow and we need to evaluate everything overnight but el plan will be to target Q3 in qualifying tomorrow. Overall, a happy day for a happy man."

Alan Permane, Sporting Director: "Firstly, it's always good to come to new places like here in Qatar - we've received a warm welcome and the facilities are first class. The early impressions of this circuit are very positive with both Esteban and Fernando commenting on how enjoyable it is to drive with its nice flow and high-speed corners. Drivers enjoy tracks which have challenging, near flat-out corners and this place has that to offer throughout. We did our homework on data simulations and we arrived here well prepared. Putting that preparation into practice on track to see where we're at on the timesheets is always rewarding - especially when everything works pretty much to plan. The main aim for today was to get into our programme as fast as possible and that meant having both drivers up to speed quickly before doing our normal Friday work, which is a balance between shaping the car set-up, getting everything dialled in and also learning the tyres within the two hours on-track. We've finished today reasonably happy but, as always, there's work to do to refine the set-up and find more performance ahead of qualifying tomorrow. We've started to build a picture on race strategy too, so we're in a good position ready for the rest of the weekend."

Check out our Friday gallery from Qatar, here.

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