BWT Alpine F1 Team made its first-ever appearance on Melbourne tarmac today, with Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon inside the top ten positions of both practice sessions on the revised and much faster Albert Park Circuit.
It’s been 756 days since Formula 1 was last planned to roll out in Melbourne and Alpine also marked the occasion with a return to its prominent blue livery after running BWT’s pink colours for the first two rounds.
Both drivers enjoyed driving the altered 5.278km circuit in Free Practice 1, with Esteban finishing sixth on a 1min 21.004secs, whilst Fernando was two tenths behind in ninth place.
In Free Practice 2 and on Soft tyres, Fernando managed his best time, a 1min 19.537secs to slot into fourth, after briefly sitting atop of the timesheets. Esteban ended his day a couple of tenths down on Fernando and finished sixth, as preparations in the team now shift onto the final practice session and qualifying tomorrow.
“First of all it was great to be back driving here in Albert Park and also getting a real-life look at the changes that have been made. Overall, a very positive day for the team where both cars finished in the top ten in both free practices. But we know it’s all about tomorrow and Sunday and we can already see that it’s going to be very tight like it was in Bahrain and Jeddah. The competition is close, especially in the midfield, so we will be working hard to put it all together for qualifying. It should be pretty exciting and hopefully the team can have another solid day tomorrow to be in a good position for the race.”
“We had some minor things that delayed us a little in Free Practice 1, but we still managed a pretty normal day for us. We completed a good amount of running and got a lot of information from both sessions. There are some balance issues that we need to solve, especially on the higher fuel runs. I obviously saw the track yesterday, but I think the changes are positive and the lap is obviously much quicker now. I’m not sure if there will be more overtaking on Sunday, but let’s see. It’s definitely great to be back here in Melbourne.”
Alan Permane, Sporting Director
“It’s great to be back in Melbourne as it’s certainly one of the highlights of the Formula 1 calendar. The recent resurfacing and track modifications have transformed Albert Park from one of the bumpiest to a smooth and flowing circuit. In terms of our performance today, we can be reasonably pleased with the cars in both practice sessions, there’s still work to do, especially in extracting the most from the Soft tyre on the first timed lap for qualifying. We ran the Medium and Hard tyres with high fuel to assess race performance and this looked in line with our simulations. Overtaking will be difficult on Sunday so it’s essential to extract the maximum from all elements in qualifying.”