Fifth place for Esteban Ocon, sixth place for Fernando Alonso: Alpine has never done so well in qualifying in the current Formula 1 season.
And yet Alonso struggles with the result, because “a few milliseconds” less and he would have caught both Ocon and McLaren driver Lando Norris, according to the two-time world champion.
He was “significantly faster” than his team-mate, “over the entire weekend,” emphasizes Alonso. In fact, Ocon only had a better final position in the first free practice session on Friday. In qualifying, Alonso acknowledges that Ocon “did a better job” in Q3. Difference: 0.060 seconds.
This is probably one of the reasons why Ocon states that it is “very satisfied” with qualifying. “The car got better and better in qualifying, lap after lap. I found more and more grip. And that was after the engineers and I scratched our heads. It’s been a difficult weekend so far.”
Ocon believes: More is not possible for Alpine
But with P5 he “reached our maximum”, says Ocon. “There wasn’t much more in my lap. And Lando was significantly faster. McLaren is probably ours at the moment [im Qualifying] one step ahead.”
In the race, however, Alonso hopes to “gain a couple of places [zu] can” because he calculates that he is “perhaps a bit faster” than Ocon and Norris in front of him. “But there are also a few faster ones behind us: Verstappen, Perez, maybe Lewis [Hamilton], if he doesn’t pass right at the start. So the race will be interesting because a few cars are further behind than usual,” says Alonso.
Ocon, in turn, advocates not being distracted by possible scenarios: “We have to drive our race and not look too much at what the others are doing.”
“Our grid position is good and we’re not far off the podium. When people attack each other up front, we’re there to take advantage of that. That’s the task for Sunday.”
Hold position instead of attacking Alonso
Especially since Alpine can use every point in the battle with McLaren for fourth place in the Formula 1 constructors’ championship. Alonso therefore expects things to get “tight” in Hungary and “over the rest of the season”. His motto: “We have to maximize our earnings.” In concrete terms, this means “holding the positions at the start and then defending them”.
But Alonso is still hanging his head a bit in qualifying, pondering the missing hundredths: “I only had one attempt in Q1 and only one attempt in Q2. But I was third in Q2, so I didn’t miss anything.”
“In Q3 the wind picked up a bit, was stronger. Maybe I wasn’t expecting that or made the best of the change in wind direction. So it’s up to me to find more pace. I think we also know where those milliseconds in the hidden in the car. We will try to correct that in the next race.”