Fernando Alonso says it is good news that the grip levels at Intercity Istanbul Park are seemingly back to normal, and he was able to have confidence in attacking the track on Friday.
The Spaniard, who did not race in the Turkish Grand Prix in 2020 so missed out on the slippery conditions, was happy with the performance of his Alpine F1 Team car on Friday, with the two-time World Champion ending inside the top ten in both sessions.
Alonso was ninth fastest in the morning and seventh in the afternoon, with the forty-year-old revealing very little was changed on his A521 between the two sessions.
“Today was like discovering a new track for the very first time,” said Alonso. “I think it was the same for everybody after the issues with track grip from last year. It seems the grip is back to normal, which is good news and it means we can have confidence in the car during a lap.
“We didn’t really change much on the car in both sessions, so we were mostly experimenting the tyres today.
“Again, the weather is the biggest unknown heading into tomorrow, but I think we should be ready for any forecast.”
“We’ve learnt a lot today that we can put into action tomorrow” – Esteban Ocon
Team-mate Esteban Ocon also felt it was a solid day for Alpine, with the Frenchman ending sixth in the morning and 0.012 seconds behind Alonso in eighth in the afternoon.
Despite an apparent issue with his gearbox as he attempted a practice race start after the end of the afternoon session, Ocon was pleased with how the day went on his side of the garage, and also happy that the grip levels around Istanbul Park have improved significantly compared to 2020.
“It’s been a solid Friday for us today and probably one of the most interesting Fridays we’ve had this year,” said Ocon. “We arrived here not knowing what the conditions were going to be like and it turned out it was much improved in comparison to last year with very high grip; probably one of the highest levels of grip we’ve experienced this season.
“It’s great to take on this track in these conditions and experience the layout. We had very good performance in FP1, inside the top five throughout, and then again in FP2 we were well inside the top ten.
“We’ve learnt a lot today that we can put into action tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do.”