Esteban Ocon was in high spirits after a productive opening day of pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit on Friday.
The Alpine F1 Team made its official on-track debut in Bahrain after its off-season rebrand – the team was known as the Renault DP World F1 Team last season.
Ocon, racing with the Enstone-based squad for a second consecutive campaign, kicked off testing with the French outfit and completed one hundred and twenty-nine laps, the second most after Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen. He even survived the sandstorm that struck the track and made conditions extremely difficult.
The former Manor F1 Team and Sahara Force India F1 Team driver ended the day third fastest, with Ocon feeling content with his days work in the A521 and eager to return to the car on Sunday.
“Everything went well today, and it was definitely a good first day back at school!” said Ocon. “It was a solid one for the team, we completed the programme with ease and we even had time at the end of the day to do pit-stop practice with the team, which was quite nice as it meant we could get ourselves back into race situations.
“We put in some decent laps today and we learned everything we set out to achieve and that’s exactly what you need during test days. We faced all kinds of conditions as well: heat this morning then strong gusts and a sandstorm this afternoon, so pretty much everything except rain.
“That was interesting, but we did what we needed to, and I look forward to driving the car again later this weekend.”
Ocon will put his feet up on Saturday as Fernando Alonso makes his long-awaited return to the track. The Spaniard will drive the A521 for the first time having missed out on driving it on the filming day as he recovered from injuries caused during his cycling crash last month.