Alan Permane, the Sporting director of BWT Alpine F1 Team, has branded the team’s Saturday afternoon as “bittersweet” after Fernando Alonso finished Friday’s qualifying session in fifth place, while team-mate Esteban Ocon suffered a gearbox failure in Qualifying One.
Ocon was forced to pit when conditions were at their best in Q1, although Alonso fought through to Q3 to qualify on the third row, despite an off-track moment at Acqua Minerali when he touched a white line on entry.
Permane believes there is still plenty to play for this weekend for both drivers, and he expects Ocon to fight back through the field and Alonso to contend for points with a car that is looking strong at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari.
“We’re left with a bittersweet feeling after tonight’s Qualifying as, unfortunately, the team faced mixed fortunes on either side of the garage,” said Permane. “Esteban’s car had a gearbox failure in Q1 and we’ll fully investigate how that occurred.
“As we saw with Fernando, the car had strong pace today, so it’s disappointing that Esteban was not able to show his true potential, especially in conditions where we’ve seen him shine in the past. On Fernando’s side it was a relatively straightforward session. The car had good pace in both the wet and dry and Fernando was happy with the car’s balance across all conditions. He will start in fifth tomorrow on the clean side of the grid and that’s a very good place to begin the Sprint.“
“Esteban, with a quick car, will certainly have an opportunity to make up some places, so his weekend is definitely not over. We’ll be doing our best tomorrow in the Sprint to set ourselves up for Sunday’s Race.”
Alpine are happy with the balance and pace of their 2022 contender, but find one car at either end of the field. Saturday’s Sprint Qualifying session will be crucial if the French outfit wish to compete with McLaren F1 Team, who have also qualified well this weekend.