Alpine F1 Team will start its home Grand Prix in France with Fernando Alonso ninth and Esteban Ocon eleventh on the grid after a stop-start qualifying session at Circuit Paul Ricard.
Fernando made it back to back Q3 appearances for the first time since May 2018, following up on his top ten effort last time out in Azerbaijan.
Esteban will line up for his home race narrowly outside the top ten, as he looks to push into the points tomorrow afternoon.
Both drivers remained in the garage in the early running in Q1 and avoided the first of two red flags after Yuki Tsunoda’s spin at Turn 2. After a brief interval, Esteban was first to set a lap-time with a 1min 32.139secs on new Softs – for eighth place - with Fernando following suit, 0.019secs behind. The second red flag of the afternoon from Mick Schumacher halted the remainder of Q1 with both drivers safely through to Q2.
With the Softs not a favourable starting tyre, Esteban and Fernando opted for the Mediums in Q2. Fernando’s first lap put him seventh with a 1min 31.566secs with Esteban marginally outside the top ten. Despite a small improvement, Esteban was unable to force his way into Q3 as he settled for eleventh.
Fernando was able to progress to the final shootout for the fourth time this season. An initial run on Mediums placed him inside the top eight, before he switched to Softs for a final attempt. With a small improvement on the second run, the Spaniard qualified ninth.
Q1: Esteban P9, 1:32.139; Fernando P10, 1:32.158
Q2: Esteban P11, 1:31.736; Fernando P8, 1:31.549
Q3: Fernando P9, 1:31.340
Esteban Ocon, #31, A521-05, Q: P11, 1:31.736, FP3: P8, 1:32.681
“It’s a shame not to get into the top ten but we know it’s all to play for tomorrow. After a good start to qualifying in Q1 with the car feeling good on the Softs, we just seemed to be lacking the pace on the Medium in Q2. It’s all about those small margins and it’s the difference between making Q3 or not. It’s frustrating now, but the weekend is not over. We’re just outside the points and we aim to score tomorrow. We have to think outside the box on strategy a bit, and we’ll give it our best.”
Fernando Alonso, #14, A521-06, Q: P9, 1:31.340, FP3: P7, 1:32.624
“I am happy with today and I think it’s more or less where we expected to be. Our pace looked good going into qualifying and then I felt we maximised most of our laps during the session with a few exceptions. It’s going to be very tight tomorrow and we are around some very quick cars all on the same tyres. Overall, though, I think we have to be satisfied with our starting position and the points are given out tomorrow, so we need to prepare for the race in the proper way.”
Davide Brivio, Racing Director: “It was a very close qualifying today between a number of cars. Fernando did a good job in getting into Q3, while it was a shame for Esteban to narrowly miss out. The team has been strong all weekend and we want to carry this momentum forward and into tomorrow where we’ll try our best to secure a good result with both cars. We’ll assess how we can maximise any opportunities.”