Fernando Alonso felt the Alpine F1 Team found their limit of performance during Qualifying for the São Paulo Grand Prix, although the Spaniard was able to get into Q3 for the first time since the Turkish Grand Prix.
Alonso felt comfortable in getting through to Q2, but after then it was difficult for him to improve on his lap times, and this made it more difficult to progress into Q3.
The two-time World Champion will start tenth on the grid for Saturday’s Sprint Qualifying race, and he is looking to be aggressive and look to make positions up from his starting position so he can start Sunday’s main race from higher up the grid.
“It was super close today,” said Alonso. “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.”
“We fell on the wrong side of the coin on this occasion” – Esteban Ocon
Team-mate Esteban Ocon was unfortunate to find himself eliminated in Q2, with the Frenchman ending just 0.052 seconds away from progressing into the top ten shootout.
Ocon acknowledged that the midfield battle at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace is extremely close so a tenth of a second here or there would make a big difference, and so it proved in Q2.
However, Ocon was pleased that Alpine appeared to show some much better pace in Brazil than they have in recent races, and he is hopeful of making gains across the weekend and to finish inside the points on Sunday.
“It was very close out there today between a number of cars,” said Ocon. “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.”