Esteban Ocon says he remains realistic about the pace of the Alpine F1 Team this weekend in Abu Dhabi despite setting the second fastest time during Friday evening’s practice session.
Having ended eleventh fastest in the first practice earlier in the day, Ocon showed Alpine have a good car at the end of the 2021 Formula 1 season as he ended second, only behind Lewis Hamilton, around the new layout of the Yas Marina Circuit.
Ocon says the aim on Saturday is to get both cars inside the top ten in Qualifying, but he expects the likes of Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez to move ahead.
“It’s been quite a productive Friday learning the new Abu Dhabi layout, which proved to be quite challenging in many aspects,” said Ocon. “I had a close call in FP1, similar to where Kimi went off in FP2, so you have to be careful pushing the limits there.
“Some of the new parts are quite tricky, so it’s important to keep getting dialled into these corners. Some of the areas on the track with new tarmac are interesting and learning the changes there will be important in understanding how the tyres behave.
“So far, we have both cars in the top ten, which is decent and that is the aim for tomorrow. It always looks cool to be in the higher positions and we ended in second place today, which has a nice sound to it.
“We’ll remain realistic, though, and keep up our hard work.”
“We maximised our time on track today in both sessions” – Fernando Alonso
Team-mate Fernando Alonso ended sixth fastest in both sessions, and he feels there is still time to find after having a quicker lap deleted for exceeding track limits in the evening’s running.
The Spaniard enjoyed learning the new layout in Abu Dhabi, with Alonso experimenting with different lines in order to find the optimum lap time. And he hopes the experimentation will benefit him and Alpine across the remainder of the weekend.
“It was a good Friday for us and I liked the track changes out there,” said Alonso. “It’s the third consecutive weekend that we discovered a new circuit on Friday, so it means we get to play around a little out on track and try different lines to find the lap time.
“We maximised our time on track today in both sessions and my fastest time was deleted in Free Practice 2, so there was a little bit more than what was shown on the final timings.
“While we still need to fine tune a few things on the setup, I think we can look back on a good day for us and we have more to come tomorrow.”