Esteban Ocon continued his recent strong form by finishing third fastest in practice for the Dutch Grand Prix on Friday, although he knows the hard work is still to be done this weekend.
The Alpine F1 Team driver, the surprise winner of the Hungarian Grand Prix just prior to the summer break, had started the weekend at the Circuit Zandvoort seventh fastest in the morning session, although he did suffer an off-track moment and a further moment when he failed to notice Lando Norris coming through and pushed the McLaren F1 Team driver onto the grass.
But Ocon was the early pacesetter in the afternoon and was only beaten by the two Scuderia Ferrari drivers at the end of the day, and he hopes for more performance on Saturday if he is to fight for a place towards the front of the grid in Qualifying.
“It’s been a fun Friday and learning this track in a Formula 1 car has been awesome,” said Ocon. “It’s been high grip, a lot of Gs, undulation and taking on the banked corners, which, overall, has been mega fun.
“As a team, it’s been a good day and we look quite competitive, but we know qualifying is when that counts. I experienced that in FP1 with the close call with Lando [Norris]. It was a little close for comfort but in the end nothing happened and we move on.
“The car handled really well today and I’m sure there’s more for us to find. It’s a small track, narrow in places, and managing traffic in qualifying will be a challenge.”
“I don’t think it’s going to be an easy weekend” – Fernando Alonso
Team-mate Fernando Alonso ended sixth in both sessions, but the Spaniard does not think it will be an easy weekend for anyone around the updated Zandvoort circuit.
The veteran Spaniard is expecting traffic to play a big part during Saturday’s Qualifying session in The Netherlands, with the session expected to be an important part of the weekend with overtaking looking likely to be difficult on race day.
“It was another challenging day for us, but it was the same for everybody with all of the small incidents and red flags throughout the day,” said Alonso. “We have to analyse everything now and make sure we’re in the best shape tomorrow.
“I don’t think it’s going to be an easy weekend and the traffic in qualifying will be difficult to manage. I do like the track, it’s quite different in a few places and the banked corners are fun.
“The atmosphere is amazing too. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.”