BWT Alpine F1 Team will start tomorrow's Sao Paulo Grand Prix with Esteban Ocon in eighteenth and Fernando Alonso fifteenth after a disappointing Sprint Qualifying, which saw both drivers fall down the leaderboard from their original grid slots.
After strong starts off the line - Esteban looked to gain on McLaren's Lando Norris with a move into Turn 4, forcing the Frenchman to run wide. Unfortunately, as a result, Esteban ran Fernando wide and pushed him onto the kerb, unsettling his car and hitting Esteban's right rear floor causing significant damage. On the same lap, at the final corner, Fernando attempted to overtake Esteban on the run onto the main straight. As he neared the move, the Spaniard hit the rear of Esteban's A522, damaging his front wing in the process, and he had to pit for a replacement.
Fernando drove strongly from there to climb from the back of the pack up to sixteenth place by the chequered flag. He inherited an extra position as a result of Lance Stroll's time penalty. Esteban's damage meant he fell down the order and he finished in eighteenth place.
After the race, a suspected fuel leak caused Esteban's car to catch fire. The team is actively seeking the cause and investigating the subsequent damage as a result of the incident.
Esteban Ocon: "Today was not the day we needed. We were optimistic leading up today's Sprint Qualifying after a good first Qualifying session on Friday but, unfortunately, the racing incident on the first lap very much ended our race today. The car damage was extensive and we lost significant performance and there was nothing left to do after that. It is really a shame as we were performing well this weekend and needed all the points we could get for our championship battle. We'll need to pull together as a team to fight our way through the field tomorrow and get back into the points."
Fernando Alonso: "It was not the Sprint Qualifying we wanted today. Unfortunately, I touched with Esteban on the first of the lap of the race and we lost the momentum from there. With the deficit lost in the pit-stop, the Sprint is too short to recover places. On the positives the car is very fast, and we have good race pace, so all is not lost this weekend just yet. We start in fifteenth for the race on Sunday and we have a chance to score points and that's the goal. We both tried to do our best and unfortunately today it didn't work out. We will think about it tomorrow and try to score points for the team."
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal: "We are extremely disappointed with today's Sprint Qualifying result, which has put us in a worse position on the grid for tomorrow's main race. We are in a very tight and competitive championship fight for fourth place in the Constructors' Championship; an objective for which over 1,000 staff are tirelessly working and striving towards. Frankly, both Esteban and Fernando must do a better job to compliment the fantastic efforts of everyone in the team by avoiding on-track incidents and compromising the entire team's performance. Today, both drivers have let the team down. I expect more from them tomorrow where we must do everything we can to recover some points from the weekend for the Championship. We aim to ensure we go to Abu Dhabi next weekend in a position where we can reach our season goals. Tomorrow is a new day."
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