BWT Alpine F1 Team tackled its first official practice sessions of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship today, as the A522 was unleashed after months of pre-season preparations. Fernando Alonso finished today's running fifth with Esteban Ocon twelfth ahead of an eagerly anticipated qualifying session tomorrow where the pecking order will finally be established.
Esteban and Fernando ran the C3 tyres in the morning to gain as much knowledge about the A522, following a raft of upgrades that were brought to the car after pre-season testing last week. Esteban's morning running was slightly disrupted by a loose sidepod that came off his car on his first timed lap, but he returned to the track moments later once the repairs were made. Afterwards, the Frenchman logged some decent mileage and ended the day session in twelfth, with Fernando running trouble free inside the top ten in eighth position.
In much cooler conditions for Free Practice 2, both cars were immediately on the pace on Pirelli's Soft tyres. Fernando finished the evening in fifth position on a 1min 32.877secs, with Esteban in twelfth place, on a 1min 33.360secs as preparations continue for Formula 1's first qualifying session of the 2022 season tomorrow.
Esteban Ocon: "It was the first proper Friday of the year, where we really got to see all the other cars on track. From what we have seen today, it looks very tight in the midfield and for us it was another day of learning and working through our programme. The issue with the loose sidepod early in FP1 slightly delayed our run plan but was quickly addressed. Despite that, it was a solid day for the team on track as we keep learning more and more about this new car. Tomorrow, we'll really see everyone's true pace and I'm looking forward to giving it my best in Qualifying."
Fernando Alonso: "It was a good day for us today and we completed our programme efficiently. It was a lot cooler today than last week at testing, so we tried to adapt to these different conditions and learn how the tyres work at these temperatures. Obviously some tweaks are still needed on the setup of the car. We'll look at this all tonight and digest all of our information. There are many questions left for us to answer tomorrow, but I think overall it was a positive day for us."
Alan Permane, Sporting Director: "It's been a sensible and steady Practice day for us in Bahrain. It's good to be back at a Grand Prix weekend preparing to race and nice to be back in the routine. Conditions here are a little different to testing last week. It's cooler and it seems that the tyres are behaving themselves better. Today, we ran the Softs and Mediums, working through some balance and set-up options in FP1 and then focusing on tyre work in FP2. Other than the loose sidepod on Esteban's car, which we've identified and rectified to avoid a repeat, we've not had any problems with the cars. Of course, we have some work to do such as improving traction and some low-speed balance but, in general, both drivers are happy and are looking forward to taking on the rest of the weekend."
Check out our Friday gallery from Bahrain, here.