Fernando Alonso refused to fully blame Sebastian Vettel for the block that ultimately cost him a chance of an appearance in Q3 at the Red Bull Ring, with the Spaniard laying the responsibility firmly on the German’s engineers on the pit wall.
The Alpine F1 Team driver felt he was on course to make it into Q3 and go for a top six place on the grid for the Austrian Grand Prix when he found Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team’s Vettel on the racing line at the final corner.
Vettel has handed a three-place grid penalty for the offence, but Alonso knows it was the responsibility of those on the Aston Martin pit wall to inform their driver that he was quickly approaching on his final flying lap.
“Today we lost an opportunity to be in a better position than last week on the starting grid, perhaps P5 or P6,” said Alonso, who will start only fourteenth as a result. “It was an unfortunate situation with Seb [Vettel], which his team should have managed better.
“It’s not Seb’s fault and, as drivers, we’re relying on our engineers to communicate things that are happening on track. It’s disappointing as we had the potential today.
“The car felt really good and probably the best it’s felt all season and it’s frustrating not to have the opportunity to reach Q3 with two new sets of tyres. Starting fourteenth tomorrow means the race will be more challenging but we’ll still do our best to recover something.”
“We tried some different things this week but we’re still lacking something” – Esteban Ocon
Whereas Alonso was a genuine contender for Q3, team-mate Esteban Ocon found himself eliminated in Q1 for the second consecutive weekend, with the Frenchman starting seventeenth.
Ocon admits the pace of his A521 has not been strong enough in either race weekend in Austria, and despite trying different things in Qualifying, it was not enough to jump into Q2.
“Our pace hasn’t improved this weekend and, unfortunately, we’re back in the same spot,” said Ocon. “We tried some different things this week but we’re still lacking something.
“I felt like I had a good lap today, so, at the moment, there aren’t many answers, but we’ll keep thinking and keep finding solutions. I’ll focus on doing the best possible job and help the team move forward.
“I’ll race as hard as I can tomorrow to get some positions back and we will not give up.”