Fernando Alonso has been encouraged by Alpine’s pace on Friday practice in Styria, saying that getting both cars into Q3 is “achievable” on Saturday.
Both Alonso and Esteban Ocon showed a flash of pace around the Red Bull Ring on Friday, ranking P5 and P3 respectively as the teams ran qualifying simulations for the first time in the second free practice session.
The double World Champion showed stronger pace at the last race in France, having taken time to adapt to his A521 in the first rounds of the season.
Having had a solid day of running around Spielberg, he said the team can compete over the course of the weekend.
“Yes, it was a good Friday for us and yes, we were expecting rain. It didn’t happen, so we were able to test our normal programme,” Alonso said, via Formula1.com.
“Happy with the tyres, happy with the car balance – we’re still to fine tune some corners to optimise the lap time – but it was a positive Friday and [I’m] confident for tomorrow.
“Maybe… on Friday we look a bit more competitive than what we look on Saturday and Sunday, but the aim is to be in Q3 with both cars and in the points on Sunday with both cars.
“It seems achievable here, so let’s try to do it.”
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As for Ocon, he was keen to exercise more caution about Alpine’s chances over the weekend. The team had been at the sharp end of the leaderboard in practice running at the French Grand Prix, only to fade slightly in qualifying and the race.
The margins between the teams were extremely tight in FP2 in particular, with the top 14 cars separated by under a second on Max Verstappen’s benchmark on Friday afternoon.
Having had a frustrating race around Paul Ricard that saw him finish outside the points, Ocon is keen to extract as much as he can from his car over the weekend.
“It was pretty decent but it’s only Friday, so we need to stay focused and address a few things that we still have to work on,” Ocon said.
“I will be very happy if that’s where we are tomorrow, but we have to stay realistic and fight our way through still, so let’s see tomorrow.
“So definitely, it’s been a good day, but there’s plenty to look at, which is positive, because if you are stuck in a corner that’s never great news.”
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