Alpine F1 Team will line-up for tomorrow’s Sprint Qualifying with Fernando Alonso tenth and Esteban Ocon eleventh after a closely fought qualifying session around the Autódromo José Carlos Pace.

Alpine F1 Team will line-up for tomorrow’s Sprint Qualifying with Fernando Alonso tenth and Esteban Ocon eleventh after a closely fought qualifying session around the Autódromo José Carlos Pace.

Preparations got underway in good fashion for Formula 1’s third ever Sprint Qualifying weekend at the Interlagos circuit, with both cars routinely lapping inside the top ten in today’s one and only practice session.

For Q1 in the afternoon, Fernando and Esteban progressed to the next session smoothly in twelfth and thirteenth, with six tenths of a second separating third to sixteenth positions. Q2 saw the field tighten up again, with Esteban’s first lap time seeing him on the cusp of the top ten on a 1min 09.251secs, and Fernando occupying ninth, a tenth faster than his team-mate.

On their second timed runs in Q2, Esteban improved marginally, but it wasn’t enough to see him into Q3 with the Frenchman just missing out in eleventh. Fernando didn’t improve on his second attempt, but his first lap was good enough to see him progress to the top ten shootout for the first time since the Turkish Grand Prix.

In what was seemingly one of the tightest qualifying sessions of the season, Fernando had two goes in Q3 and his initial lap saw him slot nicely into eighth place. With Fernando and others improving again on their second laps, the times tumbled, and he found himself in tenth position by the time of the chequered flag on a 1min 09.113secs.

Q1: Esteban P13, 1:09.430 Fernando P12, 1:09.391
Q2: Esteban P11, 1:09.189 Fernando P10, 1:09.137
Q3: Fernando P10, 1:09.113

Esteban Ocon, #31, A521-04, Q: P11, 1:09.189, FP1: P8, 1:10.145
“It was very close out there today between a number of cars. We fell on the wrong side of the coin on this occasion, but that’s the way it is sometimes. All the way through the sessions, the positions were decided by only a tenth or so, and that was the difference between reaching Q3 or falling just short. It’s a little frustrating as the aim is to always be inside the top 10, but we can be pleased that we’re back to where we should be after a run of difficult races. The performance was good, we’re knocking on the door of the points and we can look forward to tomorrow. We have an opportunity in the Sprint Qualifying tomorrow to make up some positions and put ourselves in contention for Sunday’s race.”

Fernando Alonso, #14, A521-06, Q: P10, 1:09.113, FP1: P9, 1:10.201
“It was super close today. I feel we had a productive morning and the car felt quite good and was behaving well. Qualifying also started reasonably, and we progressed into Q2 quite comfortably. But then I think from Q2 I was doing very similar lap times and I think we found the limit. We wanted to be a little higher and start on the clean side of the grid because the start could be crucial tomorrow. But let’s see what our day is like, as it’s Sprint Qualifying after all and we’ve done quite well with them in the past. I will be aggressive tomorrow as always and let’s try to have some fun.”

Alan Permane, Sporting Director: “First of all, it’s good to be back in Q3 as it’s been a couple of races since we’ve achieved that. It was a shame it was only one car, but Esteban is right in there as well in eleventh. We’ve been taking it step by step after some tough races in recent weeks and I think we now look back to where we should be. Both drivers extracted the maximum from the car today, especially Fernando by getting into Q3. It was very difficult to go under the 1min 9second mark, so we’ll settle for tenth and eleventh on tomorrow’s Sprint grid. At the last two Sprint events in Silverstone and Monza, we’ve gone quite well, so we’re looking forward to seeing what we can do tomorrow. We have some tyre evaluation work to do tomorrow in FP2 in order to make the call on the what will be the right starting tyre. The aim, of course, is to improve our starting position ahead of Sunday’s main race and we will evaluate the risks and rewards of the various options.”