Alpine F1 Team finished with both cars inside the top ten in both Friday practice sessions at Istanbul Park, as preparations got underway for the ninth edition of the Turkish Grand Prix.
Drivers ventured into the relatively unknown in Free Practice 1, with question marks on the track condition of the 5.338km circuit. Those concerns were eased in the early running with the track clearly in much improved condition than last season. Fernando began his day on Mediums (C3) and an aero rake fitted to his car with Esteban on Hards (C2). Esteban finished the morning in sixth as the only driver to complete his fastest lap time on the Hard compound with Fernando in ninth.
In Free Practice 2, both drivers aimed to continue from their positive start to the weekend by assessing the Softs (C3) in qualifying trim. Fernando’s 1min 24.660secs slotted him into seventh. Esteban built up his run plan and found improvements throughout the session, ending the day narrowly behind Fernando in eighth.
After the chequered flag during practice race starts, Esteban suffered a small issue on his A521 where he was unable to select first gear on the grid. The team is investigating the cause.
“It’s been a solid Friday for us today and probably one of the most interesting Fridays we’ve had this year. We arrived here not knowing what the conditions were going to be like and it turned out it was much improved in comparison to last year with very high grip; probably one of the highest levels of grip we’ve experienced this season. It’s great to take on this track in these conditions and experience the layout. We had very good performance in FP1, inside the top five throughout, and then again in FP2 we were well inside the top ten. We’ve learnt a lot today that we can put into action tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do.”
“Today was like discovering a new track for the very first time. I think it was the same for everybody after the issues with track grip from last year. It seems the grip is back to normal, which is good news and it means we can have confidence in the car during a lap. We didn’t really change much on the car in both sessions, so we were mostly experimenting the tyres today. Again, the weather is the biggest unknown heading into tomorrow, but I think we should be ready for any forecast.”
Davide Brivio, Racing Director
“It was a productive day today. The circuit has improved significantly since last year with high grip right from the start of FP1, which allowed the drivers to get quickly up to speed. Both Esteban and Fernando were on the pace straight away with some positive feedback on how the car felt on track in the early running. We tried some different set-ups and ideas to find further pace in FP2 and we have a good idea on where we can keep improving ahead of tomorrow. We will keep working and see what the weather is doing tomorrow as there is a chance of rain. It was important to have a good practice day and we’re now looking forward to taking on the rest of the weekend.”