Belgian GP: Qualifying team notes - Alpine


Alpine F1 Team will line up with Esteban Ocon eighth and Fernando Alonso fourteenth on the grid for tomorrow's Belgian Grand Prix after a rain soaked qualifying session at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

The day started with rain showers pounding the tarmac of the 7.004km circuit and worsened moments before qualifying was due to start. Following a short delay to allow the forecast to settle, qualifying began with the field tip-toeing out on Extreme Wets.

In challenging conditions, Esteban and Fernando found themselves in the middle of the timesheets before opting to switch onto the Intermediate tyres. With the lap times beginning to tumble, both drivers did enough on their final attempts and squeezed into Q2 in fourteenth and fifteenth positions.

The rain held off in Q2 and the pair found themselves outside of the top ten positions after their first couple of push laps. On fresh Intermediates and with improvements to be made, Esteban pumped in a 1min 57.354secs which was good enough to progress to Q3 in tenth place. Fernando improved his lap time but couldn't join his teammate in the shoot-out and will start tomorrow's race in fourteenth place.

With the rainfall returning for the start of Q3, Esteban cautiously joined the rest of the top ten on the circuit. An incident for Lando Norris at the top of Eau Rouge brought a red flag out and the session to an abrupt pause.

Once the debris was cleared, with Lando safe and out of the car, Q3 began and Esteban headed out on Extreme Wets. He soon switched to Intermediate tyres with more grip on offer than was expected. The Frenchman then had two attempts, with his best lap, a 2min 03.513secs, good enough for ninth but he will start eighth on the grid for tomorrow's Belgian Grand Prix following a penalty for Valtteri Bottas.

This weekend also saw the first ever 'Driver's Eye' tested in Formula 1, with an in-helmet camera homologated by the FIA in a Bell Racing Helmet fitted with Fernando Alonso at the wheel of his Alpine F1 Team A521.

Like in yesterday's practice sessions, Fernando wowed fans during Free Practice 3 providing a unique perspective of what it's like to drive at the wheel of a Formula 1 car around the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

Esteban Ocon: "It was not a straightforward qualifying for us today, but I'm pleased to be starting inside the top ten for tomorrow. The car felt really good in the dry yesterday, so I actually hope the rain stays away tomorrow! We just weren't as comfortable in the wet today especially on the Intermediates. We have a few things to understand on that to make sure we can further improve. I managed to do a good lap at the end of Q2 to go through to Q3, which was important. Overall, it was a challenging session, but we're in the mix for the race. I'm glad Lando is OK after the accident, that's the most important thing from today."

Fernando Alonso: "I didn't find the grip today in the changing conditions and our starting position will make it a difficult race for us tomorrow. I found myself in fourteenth in Q1 and Q2 so I think that was my pace today. If it's like this tomorrow, then for sure anything can happen and we'll see what's possible. I am glad Lando is OK after his accident."

Davide Brivio, Racing Director: "It was a tricky and difficult qualifying session and I think at the end of the day we managed quite well, placing Esteban in Q3 and in a good position for tomorrow in rainy conditions. Unfortunately things didn't work well for Fernando and we'll look into what happened for him. We now look forward to race day. We must be ready with various options for Sunday and see what we can do. It should be a wet race and anything can happen."

Check out our Saturday gallery from Spa, here.

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Published: 28/08/2021
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