BWT Alpine F1 Team returned to the fast and furious streets of Baku today, as Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon were consistently inside the top ten of both Free Practice sessions ahead of Qualifying tomorrow for the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Both drivers got to grips with the conditions during Free Practice 1, with the windy weather blustering around the 6.003km Baku City circuit. After running the Medium tyres for most of the session, both drivers switched to Soft tyres towards the end. On the faster red striped tyres, Fernando achieved fifth position with a lap time of 1min 46.571secs at the chequered flag, whilst Esteban took tenth on a 1min 46.917secs.
As the light started to creep away during Free Practice 2 and the track temperature cooled, both drivers continued to sample the Medium and Soft Pirelli tyres. On Softs, the Spaniard achieved fourth position on a 1min 44.142secs, as well as setting an impressive fastest sector 3 time. Esteban was routinely inside the top ten positions and ended up in ninth on a 1min 44.609secs and was fastest in the speed trap in the final sector.
Esteban Ocon: "It was a decent day for us overall. Baku is a place where you really need to make the most of these practice sessions and get the laps in. Confidence is key around here, similar to Monaco, and there are many braking points that you need to hit properly as there is plenty of lap time to be found in those. The car seems competitive after today, so that's good to see, but we'll have to put it all together tomorrow."
Fernando Alonso: "It is always tricky here in Baku with the windy and fast circuit conditions. But I think we had a normal Friday today and we were able to test some of our new items. We still need to optimise a few things on the setup of the car ahead of Qualifying tomorrow. However, we seem fast today, so we'll work overnight to ensure we keep this sort of pace tomorrow. We seem fast on the straights and it's sometimes a setup compromise with this type of circuit, but let's see how we go tomorrow."
Alan Permane, Sporting Director: "We are happy with our work today. We brought some upgrades to Baku and everything seems to be working very well. The drivers are reasonably happy with the cars and there are still improvements to make of course. The two sessions ran as planned, very smoothly. We did our tyre work and have a good understanding on how the car is working, both on high and low fuel. The wind plays a part here, it can be very gusty and can catch the drivers out as we saw a few times especially around the last couple of corners that are very tricky with a tailwind today. It was a steady day and we look forward to qualifying tomorrow."
Check out our Friday gallery from Baku, here.