BWT Alpine F1 Team claimed a maiden front row grid slot as Fernando Alonso qualified a sensational second place for tomorrow’s Canadian Grand Prix claiming his first top two start since 2012 in the process. Team-mate Esteban Ocon qualified in seventh place to put the team in strong contention for Sunday’s race in Montreal.
Fernando’s lap-time on his final effort in Q3 – a 1min 21.944secs – proved good enough for his first front row grid position in ten years, which he last achieved at the 2012 German Grand Prix. Fernando was in scintillating form across Saturday, finishing in first place in Free Practice 3 to tee up a strong Qualifying effort.
Esteban lines up on the fourth row on the grid for tomorrow’s race with his lap – a 1min 23.529secs – quick enough for seventh place.
Both drivers used full Wet tyres in Q1 and progressed to Q2 with Fernando in second place on a 1min 32.277secs and Esteban also comfortably through in sixth on a 1min 33.012secs.
With the track drying, both drivers ran Intermediates from the beginning of Q2, before a brief red flag period to clear Sergio Perez’s Red Bull at Turn 3. Again, Fernando progressed in second place with Esteban’s final lap pushing him to eighth place and through to Q3.
A dry line began to appear on track, prompting some discussion to run dry tyres or remain on Intermediates. Fernando – on the green marked Intermediates – continued to knock on the door of the top three, eventually upping his lap time below the 1min 22secs mark to take second place, with Esteban slotting into seventh place.
Tomorrow’s 70-lap Grand Prix begins at 14:00 local time.
“It’s an amazing result for us to take second place today, so I’m feeling very pleased. It was impossible to know the grip levels on each lap in those conditions and that made it even more challenging. In the end, I think it’s a little bit unexpected to be on the front row, but it will be very nice to line-up there tomorrow. Let’s see if we can fight with Max [Verstappen] into turn one, though, that said, aiming to score strong points will be our main goal. The team deserves a big congratulations as they have been working flat out on updates and this is an example of this. It’ll be a long race in different conditions again, but I’m confident, so let’s see what we can do on the day.”
“First of all, I’m delighted for the team and for Fernando today. He deserves to be starting on the front row after driving very a strong weekend so far. On my side, I feel slightly disappointed as more was probably on the table today in those conditions. We weren’t able to extract the performance that we know is there and I’ve felt a little bit off the pace all weekend. As always, we’ll continue the hard work with the engineers to find the marginal gains. Nevertheless, we have both cars in good positions on the grid for tomorrow and we’re in contention to score strong points for the team, which is most important.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal
“We can be very pleased with our Saturday effort today with both cars in the mix to score good points in tomorrow’s race. Congratulations to Fernando on securing second place in Qualifying. He’s driven superbly all weekend so far and now he’s fully focused on delivering a solid race to ensure he scores strong points for the team. Whenever there is rain in Formula 1, there’s always a chance for some drama, but, equally, that also brings big opportunities. The team and both drivers did a great job in executing a plan for all three qualifying sessions, making sure the cars were on track at the right time with the right tyres on in order to fight for high grid positions. Today, we’ve achieved that with Fernando’s front row and Esteban in seventh place. Tomorrow, we must remain focused on the race, plan a sensible strategy and put ourselves in contention to have both cars well inside the points.”