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Qatar GP: Qualifying team notes - Alpine

NEWS STORY
20/11/2021

Alpine F1 Team will line up with Fernando Alonso fifth and Esteban Ocon ninth for tomorrow's maiden Qatar Grand Prix after Alpine's strongest qualifying session this season under the lights of the Losail International Circuit.

The result marks Fernando's best qualifying result since the Japanese Grand Prix in 2014 and the Alpine pair's fifth Q3 appearance together this season.

Fernando started qualifying in fine form and only needed one set of tyres to progress to Q2 after he went a tenth quicker on the used set of Softs to take sixth on a 1min 22.422secs. Esteban joined his team-mate in Q2 after bolting on another set of Softs to finish eleventh.

Q2 saw Esteban and Fernando fitting Softs again, with Fernando's initial time seeing him occupy sixth place, and Esteban just a tenth down in seventh. The pair improved again on their second laps and Fernando jumped into third on a 1min 21.894secs, only two tenths down from first, while Esteban claimed sixth on a 1min 22.012secs and also reached Q3.

Fernando had two sets of new Softs for Q3 after saving one earlier in Q1 and was feeling confident under the lights. His first attempt did not disappoint and his lap time placed him fifth on a 1min 21.670secs. Meanwhile, Esteban's first run on a scrubbed set of Softs saw him slot into ninth.

Esteban fitted new Softs for his second lap and he improved by four tenths on a 1min 22.028secs, which was good enough to finish ninth.

Fernando aborted his final run due to a stricken Alpha Tauri on the main straight, but his pace was enough to hold onto fifth place, and in the end score his best qualifying result for seven years ahead of tomorrow's first-ever Qatar Grand Prix.

Esteban Ocon: "As a team, it's a very positive qualifying result with both Fernando and I in Q3. On my side, we missed a little bit today and we have some things to review to see where we were lacking and where we can improve. There was probably a little more left on the table today as on my Q3 lap I went wide at Turn 1 trying to gain some time. Still, we're back in Q3, which is great, and we know points are given out on Sundays. We're still in the fight and we can battle hard tomorrow to deliver some points."

Fernando Alonso: "I think the whole weekend has been positive for us. The car felt strong in all sessions and seems to enjoy the high-speed corners here. I told the team if they gave me enough fuel, I would be driving all night long and I would wait for them here tomorrow morning! It seems some circuits are better than others for our package and Qatar seems to be one of those. We need to study why we miss this performance in other circuits. But the points are scored tomorrow, so we need to maximise our starting slot. We start on the clean side of the grid and there are a few different tyre strategies for us to be aware. We have some question marks, but it's better to solve these from fifth."

Marcin Budkowski, Executive Director: "We've had good pace throughout the weekend here in Doha, so it's great to be able to convert that in qualifying today with both cars in Q3 and Fernando in the top five. There were some mixed tyre strategies and we bet on Soft tyres for Q2, which proved to be the right call as we saw quite a lot of our competitors bailing out from the Mediums after the first run. Fernando was very happy with his car and his impressive first lap in Q3 allowed him to secure fifth position on the grid. Esteban's qualifying was compromised by a brake issue at the beginning of the session that progressively improved but altered his confidence in the car, nevertheless he pushed through and managed to finish ninth. Overall, a very positive qualifying result for the team that puts us in contention to score big points tomorrow. With Fernando next to Pierre [Gasly] on the grid, and Esteban next to Yuki [Tsunoda], it will make for an exciting race in the battle for fifth in the championship - so bring on the race!"

Check out our Saturday gallery from Qatar, here.

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