Alpine F1 Team will line up with Esteban Ocon sixth and Fernando Alonso thirteenth on the grid for tomorrow’s Heineken Portuguese Grand Prix after a challenging qualifying session in windy conditions at the Algarve International Circuit.
Both drivers started qualifying with a strong performance in Q1 and safely made it through to the next session, with Ocon fourth and Alonso thirteenth. Esteban required two runs, his second effort sealing his entry into Q2, with Fernando able to abort his second lap.
For Q2, Esteban showed he only needed one push lap and finished comfortably inside the top 10 with a 1min 18.586secs on new Soft tyres, which was good enough for fourth position.
Fernando sat on the cusp of the top 10 shoot-out on his first run on Softs and, although he improved on his second timed lap, it wasn’t enough to join Esteban in Q3, finishing the session thirteenth on a 1min 19.456secs.
Representing the sole remaining A521 in Q3 for the second race in a row, Esteban fell short of the top eight on his first push lap on new Softs with the wind picking up around the track. But the Frenchman pressed on and found a significant improvement where others couldn’t on his second lap, finishing the session in sixth to secure his best qualifying result since the 2020 Belgian Grand Prix.
“I’m very pleased with that one! Thanks to the team for their hard work and dedication in recent weeks as it’s made the difference today. We made a good step between practice and qualifying, and everything worked really well. We aim to keep finding these improvements and carry this progress forward. We’re starting up there for the race, so that’s good news. We know it’ll be challenging tomorrow but overtaking is possible and there are some differences on starting tyre throughout the grid. The aim is to score points.”
“It was not easy today and the weather conditions changed quite a lot from final practice. We lost something between FP3 and qualifying so we need to look at this and understand what happened. The good thing is we can choose the tyre we start on tomorrow and this gives us more options on strategy. Points are scored tomorrow, so it’s still all to play for.”
Davide Brivio, Racing Director
“We’re very pleased with sixth position today for Esteban. He did a great job throughout all of the sessions today and was very consistent. The team also executed our plan in qualifying very well so we can be pleased with that. It was a pity for Fernando, but on the positive we do have some options for his strategy tomorrow. I think we are in a good position for the race and that’s when it all counts.”