Alpine F1 Team started the season-opening Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix weekend with a trouble-free Friday practice at the Bahrain International Circuit.
Esteban Ocon ended the day in eleventh place with team-mate Fernando Alonso – driving his first Friday practice since 2018 – fifteenth under the lights in Bahrain.
New regulations for 2021 means Friday practice has been reduced from three hours to two hours, making every run crucial to the progress of the race weekend.
The first session – under scorching 35C heat – focused on a series of aero evaluations on the A521 with both drivers on Hard (C2) tyres for the early part of the day before finishing FP1 on Softs (C4).
In FP2, held in the evening, track temperature dipped by almost 15C, with both sides of the garage running the Mediums (C3) for the first time of the day and then low fuel on Softs. Esteban and Fernando rounded off their day with higher fuel runs.
Esteban Ocon, #31, A521-05
Free Practice 1: P15, 1:33.528, 20 laps
Free Practice 2: P11, 1:31.601, 24 laps
Esteban: “It’s good to be back in the car again in preparation for a race weekend. I think we’ve had a solid day as we made an improvement from FP1 to FP2. We’ve discovered a lot of things between now and testing, so it was good to carry that on during today’s practice. We still need to work hard and find more details, though, and there’s certainly more potential to unlock from the car. It’s only Friday and we know tomorrow is when it counts. I quite enjoyed the shorter practice sessions. It means you have to focus a lot more on each run as every bit of track time counts.”
Fernando Alonso, #14, A521-06
Free Practice 1: P16, 1:33.872, 18 laps
Free Practice 2: P15, 1:31.770, 24 laps
Fernando: “It was fantastic to be back in a free practice session today in Formula 1. You feel the extra adrenaline with the traffic and everything going on around you; it’s very different to testing. It felt good and I felt the racing spirit each lap, which I enjoyed. We got through our programme in the first session in very hot conditions and then some long runs this evening as the track cooled for FP2. We do still need to fine tune some of the car setup and analyse the data a bit more, but, overall, I’m happy with my day.”
Davide Brivio, Racing Director: “We did quite a lot of work today. For FP1, we tried some different settings on the car and then, this evening, the team did a good job and we were able to improve the balance of the car. I think we made a step in the second session and we improved our pace. Now it’s time for us to analyse what we’ve done and identify the areas where we can make further improvements. We will keep looking forward as a team and continue to work. The aim is to make another further step for tomorrow’s practice and get ready ahead of qualifying.”
Total Laps: 86 laps (44, Esteban; 42, Fernando), 465km.
The equivalent of driving the length of Bahrain, 10 times.
Alpine Academy Update*: Sunday’s Formula 2 Feature Race will see an all Alpine Academy front row after Guanyu Zhou pipped Christian Lundgaard by 0.003secs in a thrilling Qualifying session. Oscar Piastri will line-up eighth. The first Sprint Race tomorrow sees the Top 10 in Qualifying reversed, meaning Oscar will start third, Christian ninth and Zhou tenth.
Esteban and Fernando score first points of the season after eventful Emilia Romagna Grand Prix
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2021 Formula 1 Pirelli Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Saturday
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