Alpine F1 Team returned to the fast and busy streets of Baku today. Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon have been consistently in the top 10 in both free practice sessions ahead of qualifying for the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, scheduled for tomorrow.
Both men familiarized themselves with the conditions during the first free practice session, including having to deal with the wind sweeping the 6.003 km Baku City circuit today. After using the Medium tires for most of the session, both riders switched to the Soft tires towards the end. With the red tyres, the most efficient on a flying lap, Fernando set the fifth fastest time thanks to a lap of 1’46”571, five ranks ahead of Esteban, credited with a lap in 1’46”917.
During the second session, as the light began to decline and so did the track temperature, the two riders continued to test the Pirelli Medium and Soft tyres. With the latter, the Spaniard climbed to fourth place in 1’44”142, while signing the absolute best third sector.
“With the wind and the fast nature of the circuit, the conditions are often tricky here. But I think we wrapped up a classic Friday, during which we were able to test some of our new elements. We still need to optimize some things in terms of the settings before tomorrow’s qualifying. However, we looked fast today, and we’ll work tonight to make sure we’re still on that kind of pace tomorrow. We perform well in a straight line. On this type of circuit, everything is a matter of compromise, but we will see how we manage tomorrow. »
Regularly in the top ten, Esteban finished ninth, with a best time of 1’44”609 and the best top speed in sector 3. This speed impressed the whole paddock in Baku!
“It was, for us, a very decent day overall. Baku is the kind of place where you really need to take advantage of the free practice sessions, completing as many laps as possible. Here, as in Monaco, trust is key. Finding the right braking points is paramount, as there is a lot to be gained. The car looks competitive, which is nice to see. It’s up to us to put everything in order tomorrow. »
Alan Permane, Sporting Director, looks back on the day at Alpine, which saw the start of many changes, particularly on the side of the pontoons.
“We are very happy today. We have made some changes to Baku and everything seems to be working fine. The drivers are reasonably happy with their cars, although there are obviously still some areas for improvement to be explored. Both sessions went as planned, very smoothly. We worked on the tires and understood where we needed to be, regardless of the amount of fuel on board. The wind certainly plays a role here, with gusts capable of surprising the pilots, as we have seen on several occasions. Especially in the last two corners, very difficult to negotiate with the tailwind. It was a studious day and we are looking forward to qualifying tomorrow. »