Esteban Ocon Picks Up Where He Left Off

Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A521. Dutch Grand Prix, Friday 3rd September 2021. Zandvoort, Netherlands (image courtesy Alpine F1 Team)

Alpine F1 Team finished with both cars comfortably inside the top ten at Circuit Zandvoort today as preparations began for this weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix, the first F1 race in the Netherlands since 1985.

Esteban Ocon was the third-fastest driver of the day, putting in a strong lap in the afternoon’s session, with Fernando Alonso two tenths adrift in sixth.

Free Practice 1 began with the grandstands awash with fans around the packed 4.259km Grand Prix venue. Both drivers managed a number of laps early on, before Sebastian Vettel’s stricken Aston Martin halted proceedings for a lengthy delay. The session resumed with only six minutes left on the clock, ending with Fernando – driving in Zandvoort for the first time – sixth and Esteban less than a tenth behind in seventh, both on the Soft tyres.

Despite some further incidents in Free Practice 2, both drivers completed some solid running early on with Fernando on the Hard tyres and Esteban opting for the Medium compound.

Esteban and Fernando then switched to some low fuel running on the Softs. The Frenchman’s time of 1min 11.074secs placed him third and Fernando’s 1min 11.280secs was enough for sixth on the timesheets.

The pair finished their day on some high fuel runs on the Medium and Soft tyres and remained third and sixth at the chequered flag.

Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A521.  Dutch Grand Prix, Friday 3rd September 2021. Zandvoort, Netherlands (image courtesy Alpine F1 Team)
Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A521. Dutch Grand Prix, Friday 3rd September 2021. Zandvoort, Netherlands (image courtesy Alpine F1 Team)

Esteban Ocon

“It’s been a fun Friday and learning this track in a Formula 1 car has been awesome. It’s been high grip, a lot of Gs, undulation and taking on the banked corners, which, overall, has been mega fun. As a team, it’s been a good day and we look quite competitive, but we know qualifying is when that counts. I experienced that in FP1 with the close call with Lando [Norris]. It was a little close for comfort but in the end nothing happened and we move on. The car handled really well today and I’m sure there’s more for us to find. It’s a small track, narrow in places, and managing traffic in qualifying will be a challenge.”

Fernando Alonso

“It was another challenging day for us but it was the same for everybody with all of the small incidents and red flags throughout the day. We have to analyse everything now and make sure we’re in the best shape tomorrow. I don’t think it’s going to be an easy weekend and the traffic in qualifying will be difficult to manage. I do like the track, it’s quite different in a few places and the banked corners are fun. The atmosphere is amazing too. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.”

Davide Brivio, Racing Director

“It was interesting to discover a new track, but unfortunately we lost a lot of time with the stoppages and had to slightly change our schedule to recover. In the afternoon we did a good job, completing long and short runs and pick up as much information as possible. In terms of performance, so far we are in a good position. On the Medium tyres, Esteban did a good run and had decent pace. Both drivers also looked strong on the Soft tyre from the initial data; we have to go through all the analysis tonight, but it was a positive day, all things considered.”

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