Alpine F1 Team returned to the racetrack today as practice for this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix got underway at Spa-Francorchamps.

Alpine F1 Team returned to the racetrack today as practice for this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix got underway at Spa-Francorchamps.

Conditions were tricky throughout the day in the Ardennes with rain showers and sunny intervals frequent and largely difficult to predict. Fernando Alonso ended the day in fourth place with team-mate, and Formula 1’s latest race winner, Esteban Ocon in seventh.

Free Practice 1 began in damp conditions with both drivers taking on sighting laps on Intermediate tyres. Esteban carried on from where he left off in Hungary and momentarily occupied first place after a first run on Medium (C3) tyres. Fernando’s first outing in the dry was on Hards (C2). With 20 minutes remaining both drivers had their first taste of Softs (C4) on the day with Esteban finishing the session in ninth and Fernando tenth.

Like the morning session, Free Practice 2 was declared wet for the early running with the track drying quickly. Esteban started the session on Hards with Fernando on Mediums before both drivers moved to Softs at the midway point.

After setting the fastest split time in the high-speed Sector 1, Esteban had a spin at Turn 14 but escaped any damage to his A521. Two red flags for separate incidents to Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen in the final 15 minutes hampered any plans for long running with the team concluding the day with Fernando fourth and Esteban seventh.

Esteban Ocon, #31, A521-04
Free Practice 1: P9, 1:46.497, 16 laps
Free Practice 2: P7, 1:45.302, 15 laps

Esteban: “Firstly, it’s great to be back in the car after the summer break. Today has been busy and chaotic in all the ways possible with the weather conditions. It kept changing throughout the day, meaning we had to adapt to both damp and dry conditions. It was quite hard at the beginning as some areas were damp while some parts of the track were completely normal. I had a spin in FP2, but I was just pushing a bit to find the limit and it was slippery out there, but fortunately there was no damage done! Overall, though, we look quite competitive with similar characteristics to our performance last year, which is good news. Qualifying is tomorrow and that’s when it matters.”

Fernando Alonso, #14, A521-06
Free Practice 1: P10, 1:46.612, 16 laps
Free Practice 2: P4, 1:44.953, 15 laps

Fernando: “It was an interesting Friday for sure. We were looking at the sky all morning and afternoon as it wasn’t a completely dry circuit to start both of the sessions. This impacted our day a little bit, but I think we have a good baseline for tomorrow. The weather will be the thing for us all to watch as it’s looking slightly unknown heading into qualifying. If it’s dry, I’m quite confident of a strong result.”

Davide Brivio, Racing Director: “It’s good to be back racing after the break, and Spa delivered its usual surprises with the weather. It’s been a challenging day with the conditions as both sessions began on a damp track before drying. From our point of view, it’s been a good day and we did our best with the conditions. We’ve collected some good information and that gives us some work to do to make further improvements for tomorrow. Like today, we will keep trying to guess the weather and we’re certainly expecting some rain both for tomorrow and Sunday. We will keep working and see what happens over the next two days. For now, we’re happy with our Friday’s work!”

Total Laps: 62 laps (31 for Esteban, 31 for Fernando), 434km.