Alpine’s Fernando Alonso was satisfied by his team’s Portugal form but stresses their reliance on good qualifying, and hopes for consistency, as Esteban Ocon sees progress on his side.
In Portugal, Alonso finished eighth in what would be his second points finish of the season thus far. The Spaniard notched his notable result after a poor Qualifying that saw him qualify P15, ultimately finishing one position behind teammate Esteban Ocon in F1 Portuguese GP in eighth.
Alonso says he was motivated by his poor Qualifying, which drove him to find greater success in Sunday’s race. I think in Bahrain, I was more careful with everything, just to complete the first grand prix,” he said to TV media. In Imola, I was so uncomfortable in the car with the conditions. I didn’t feel good on the inters, the visibility.
“So, I think this is really the first race that I was extracting the maximum from the car. And yeah, I was upset after Portugal qualifying. So, in the race, that anger was probably on track as well,” Alonso said.
The result was a positive one for Alpine, Alonso explains, as the team had previously thought battling with McLaren and Ferrari “unthinkable.” But the two-time champion is not totally confident his team can continue to perform at this high a level for the rest of this season.
At the very least, he points out, it will take a number of good Qualifying performances to ensure similar results in upcoming rounds. “We were fighting with one McLaren and one Ferrari, I think they were unthinkable in Bahrain or Imola, so I think we made a very big step forward in terms of car performance, all the free practice we were competitive,” said Alonso.
“I [hope] this is the real pace, in Imola and Bahrain, we were with different group of cars and here we were with the Ferraris, AlphaTauri and McLaren. We would love to keep doing like this and now [with] Barcelona and Monaco [coming up], the Saturday will be more important as overtaking is difficult, so I still have some homework to do,” Alonso said.
The Spaniard says Alpine continue to learn about their A521 and how to extract the most from it. In order to earn points regularly, Alonso says it is imperative that the team continue to adapt. “I think we’re still discovering things on the car every weekend.
“We went in to a very different circuit characteristics so far this year, very different conditions as well, from the heat of Bahrain and the slow speed corners with a combination of long and straight, to the damp Imola, and now the windy Portimao,” said Alonso. “So I think we have to keep learning from the car and from our opponents as well, where they are strong, where we are weak, and I think that will take more time for everybody.”
Alonso’s teammate Esteban Ocon believes their 2021 car still has more to offer, although he says it will require hard work to extract the remaining performance from the car. “Obviously next we have a lot of work at the factory to be done so we’ll have good preparation, and yeah I hope it will be fine; I’m sure we can still extract a little bit more from it.”
So far, Ocon has been far more comfortable with the Alpine car than Alonso. He was always in the mix for the Top 10. He did lose out to Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc, but had enough to keep himself ahead of his teammate and other rivals.
“It was a really fun race and definitely it was good to have some battles with the cars that were quicker than us in the first two race, so it definitely feels good to have made such a step-in term of performance,” said Ocon. “It was not like we had a massive difference in tyre age so it was not an easy pass to do on Carlos and on Pierre.
“It was nice to do both into Turn 1. I think it was the maximum that we could have done today. Overall, the McLaren and the Ferraris were too fast ahead but we will keep pushing and we will keep trying to close the gap, but all least we have shown that what we are doing is working very well in terms of progression,” summed up Ocon.
Here’s Marcin Budkowski explaining why Alpine lost pace