Esteban Ocon Staying Realistic Despite P2 In FP2

Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A521. Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Friday 10th December 2021. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE.
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Alpine F1 Team trialled the redesigned Yas Marina Circuit today in the final Friday of the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship ahead of Qualifying tomorrow for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Esteban Ocon finished his Friday in second with Fernando Alonso sixth as lap times were up to thirteen seconds faster than in 2020.

For Free Practice 1, Fernando and Esteban put together a tidy session and ran very much according to El Plan as displayed on the rear wings of their A521s.

This was in addition to the entertaining Secret Santa exchange between Fernando and Daniel Ricciardo, who both have ’El Plan’ tattoos affixed to their arms for this weekend’s Grand Prix to honour the Spaniard’s ongoing plan.

Running on Softs for FP1, they finished their respective afternoons in sixth and eleventh, with Fernando’s time, a 1min 25.625secs, only six tenths from the fastest time on the board.

Abu Dhabi fell under dusk for Free Practice 2 and both Alpine drivers found the circuit to be much improved on the afternoon. The pair started on Mediums before switching to the red striped Softs. Esteban and Fernando floated around the top six positions for much of the session, and the Frenchman briefly topped the timesheets on his running on the Soft tyres.

By the chequered flag, Esteban’s earlier lap time on Softs, a 1min 24.034secs, was enough to finish second. Fernando ended up in sixth place on a 1min 24.495secs, after his fastest time which was two tenths quicker, was deleted for track limits on the exit of Turn 16.

Esteban Ocon

“It’s been quite a productive Friday learning the new Abu Dhabi layout, which proved to be quite challenging in many aspects. I had a close call in FP1, similar to where Kimi went off in FP2, so you have to be careful pushing the limits there. Some of the new parts are quite tricky, so it’s important to keep getting dialled into these corners. Some of the areas on the track with new tarmac are interesting and learning the changes there will be important in understanding how the tyres behave. So far, we have both cars in the top ten, which is decent and that is the aim for tomorrow. It always looks cool to be in the higher positions and we ended in second place today, which has a nice sound to it. We’ll remain realistic, though, and keep up our hard work.”

Fernando Alonso

“It was a good Friday for us and I liked the track changes out there. It’s the third consecutive weekend that we discovered a new circuit on Friday, so it means we get to play around a little out on track and try different lines to find the lap time. We maximised our time on track today in both sessions and my fastest time was deleted in Free Practice 2, so there was a little bit more than what was shown on the final timings. While we still need to fine tune a few things on the setup, I think we can look back on a good day for us and we have more to come tomorrow.”

Alan Permane, Sporting Director

“Both sessions have been good today. The first one was about learning the new parts of the track and trying to understand the tyres here around the new layout, which looks to flow a bit nicer and might be better in the race with possibly some more overtaking opportunities in Turn 9 and possibly Turn 5. The drivers were pretty happy with the car. There was a bit of understeer in the first session, and we made some changes between both practice sessions and saw improvements on both cars for the afternoon. We look fairly happy on low fuel and high fuel and so we are looking forward to the rest of the weekend.”

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