Formula 1

Esteban Ocon: “We’ll need to be at our best to take home the valuable points on offer”

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Credit: BWT Alpine F1 Team

Esteban Ocon made it through to Q3 at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace for the first time in his FIA Formula 1 World Championship career on Friday, with the Frenchman pleased the BWT Alpine F1 Team managed their tyre choices well throughout the Qualifying hour.

Q1 started damp meaning intermediate tyres were initially needed before it dried up enough to switch to the slick tyres, while Q2 was dry throughout.  Ocon was able to get through both sessions to get into Q3, which became a one-lap shootout as the rain closed in.

Ocon says the mixed-up grid for Saturday’s sprint race gives them a good chance of fighting for points, with Alpine looking to extend their advantage over the McLaren F1 Team as the two outfits battle for fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship.

“I’d like to first congratulate Haas and Kevin [Magnussen] for their result today,” said Ocon.  “They took a risk and it paid off, so I am happy for them.

“For us, it was of course a challenging Qualifying session but, in the end, it’s a good result for the team, finishing in sixth and seventh. It was very tricky today with the weather and we managed tyre choices well, which was important.

“Tomorrow is a great opportunity as the grid is quite mixed up compared to what we’re used to, so we’ll need to be at our best to take home the valuable points on offer for the Sprint race.”

“The aim is to make up some places and I’m sure that is possible” – Fernando Alonso

Team-mate Fernando Alonso will line-up seventh, with the Spaniard happy to have been competitive throughout Qualifying on Friday evening.

Alonso, in his penultimate race with Alpine before he switches to the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team in 2023, was fast all through Qualifying, hitting first place at times in Q1 and Q2, but he was forced to settle for a place on the fourth row when it mattered in Q3.

The two-time World Champion felt they could have qualified higher for Saturday’s Sprint race had they been smarter at the start of Q3, but he knows from seventh he can fight for points.

“I’m pleased with today’s Qualifying, which we had to execute in very tricky conditions,” said Alonso. “In the beginning, with the Intermediate tyres, we adapted quickly, and it was nice to be in first place!

“Once we switched to dry tyres, we were again in first place throughout, and we seemed to be fast in these challenging conditions. In Q3, when it started raining, it was always going to be a benefit to the ones at the front of the queue.

“We probably missed a chance to start higher up for the Sprint, but tomorrow the aim is to make up some places and I’m sure that is possible.”

Fernando Alonso will start seventh in the Sprint race in Brazil – Credit: BWT Alpine F1 Team
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