BWT Alpine F1 Team will line up for tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix with both drivers inside the top ten as Fernando Alonso qualified seventh and Esteban Ocon tenth on a thrilling Saturday afternoon in Monaco.
Both drivers could count themselves unfortunate not to start even higher up the grid with Fernando unable to complete a second lap in Q3 after hitting the wall at Turn 7, while Esteban did not record a representative lap time on new tyres after the late red flag in the session.
After a brief red flag in Q1, both drivers progressed into Q2 with Esteban improving his initial time to a 1min 12.848secs, while Fernando’s earlier effort, a 1min 13.394secs, ensured he eased into the second phase.
In Q2, Fernando ran new Softs and pushed towards the top six on a 1min 12.721secs, with Esteban’s 1min 13.055secs on used Softs also putting him inside the top ten. Both drivers had new Softs for their second runs with Esteban jumping to a 1:12.528secs in sixth place and Fernando squeezing into Q3 on a 1min 12.688secs.
After running new sets in Q1, Esteban was left with one new set of Softs for Q3 with Fernando enjoying two attempts on new rubber. Fernando’s first run saw him slot into fifth on a 1min 12.247secs. Esteban was in tenth on a 1min 13.047secs on used tyres. Both drivers were unable to complete a second run with the red flag for Sergio Perez’s crash at Turn 8 bringing the session to an abrupt end. Fernando had a small off at Mirabeau with minimal damage sustained to his A522.
“After three difficult free practice sessions where performance was lacking, it’s a great feeling to get to Q3 in Monaco. We knew qualifying was key today, so the focus was always to get the set up right after testing different things over yesterday and today. I do have mixed feelings, though, as I was on for a great final lap before the incident, which stopped the session. Nevertheless, we showed that the pace was there, and we managed to extract it when it mattered, so great job by the team. We’ve got both cars on the top ten tomorrow and we are most likely expecting some rain, so it’s going to be interesting and we know in this sport that anything can happen.”
“Even though we made a big improvement with the car for today and position-wise it’s a good qualifying, we could have been even better. On the first attempt in Q3, I was fifth and with the track evolution I think we could have kept this position for tomorrow. Unfortunately, I locked up under braking for Mirabeau. In Monaco when you lose concentration, even for a second, it can have a big impact, so I apologise to the team. Nevertheless, we need to see tomorrow and if the rain comes as it could be very chaotic, with lots of safety cars and red flags. If it does rain, I’m sure it will be great to watch on TV, but very stressful inside the car!”
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal
“We’re pleased to have both our cars inside the top ten today, especially as we were able to make vast improvements from Friday, through this afternoon’s practice session, and into an important qualifying session. There was potential to be even higher up the grid than seventh and tenth, but we weren’t able to put together the laps in Q3, which ended early with the red flag. Sometimes it happens like this and we’ll review what we can do to ensure we maximise our performance potential at future races. Fernando had a small off with some damage sustained to his car. It’s fairly minor especially in comparison to how big crashes can be around Monaco, so the car will be fixed and ready for tomorrow’s race. There is some uncertainty in the forecast, which we’ll keep an eye on. Rain or dry, though, we’ve put ourselves in a strong position to score strongly with both cars.”