Both Alpine’s In Top 10 On Opening Day In Baku

Alpine F1 Team finished practice ahead of this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix with both cars inside the top ten. The first practice in two years at the Baku City Circuit took place in hot and breezy conditions, with Fernando Alonso – driving for the first time in Azerbaijan since 2018 – finishing the day sixth and Esteban not far behind in ninth.
Free Practice 1 saw the team run an aero test on both cars to evaluate some updates to the A521. During the session, Fernando ran the Hard and Medium Pirelli tyres, but Esteban fitted the Hard and Soft to negotiate the twisty, dusty track.

On the Medium tyres, Fernando improved on his final lap of the session, placing him neatly inside the top ten in ninth position. Esteban finished sixteenth using the Soft compound.

For the start of Free Practice 2, Esteban opted for the Medium tyres with Fernando running the Soft. As track conditions evolved around the 6.003km circuit, drivers often found themselves exploring the escape roads after pushing beyond the limits of the track.

Esteban and Fernando stayed out of trouble despite several yellow flags and a red flag for Nicholas Latifi, which brought proceedings to a short halt mid-way through the session.

With the session quickly restarting, both drivers headed out with Soft tyres. After several push laps, Fernando’s 1min 42.693secs was good enough for sixth, with Esteban joining him inside the top ten in ninth on a 1min 43.020secs.

2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Friday - Fernando Alonso (image courtesy Alpine F1 Team)
2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Friday – Fernando Alonso (image courtesy Alpine F1 Team)

Both drivers ended the day on long runs and remained inside the top ten in Friday’s final classification.

Esteban Ocon, #31, A521-05
Free Practice 1: P16, 1:45.446 23 laps
Free Practice 2: P9, 1:43.020, 23 laps

Esteban: “Overall we had a decent day, with good understanding and lots of data, especially on the longer runs. There are obviously some things we need to go through tonight but both cars finished in the top ten in the afternoon. The track was quite dirty this morning but made a huge improvement in FP2. On my side I was not completely happy with the car, but we know the direction we need to take for the rest of the weekend, which is positive: we obviously need to keep this momentum tomorrow.”

Fernando Alonso, #14, A521-06
Free Practice 1: P9, 1:44.777, 25 laps
Free Practice 2: P6, 1:42.693, 24 laps

Fernando: “It was a positive Friday for us today and good to be back driving in Baku. The car felt good straight away in FP1 and we didn’t play around too much with the setup. We tried some different tyre combinations just to understand the needs of the entire weekend and we will take some valuable data from this. Overall, it was a good start to the weekend, but we know there are some other areas of performance for us to still unlock.”

Davide Brivio, Racing Director:

“It was a positive day as we ran through our programme this morning and afternoon. It looks like our performance is not so bad at the moment and we can be fairly satisfied with the day’s work. Fernando is quite happy about the car and we made an improvement for Esteban from the morning. Let’s keep the positive trend going for the rest of the weekend.”

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