Fernando Alonso pronounced himself happy with the outcome of Saturday’s qualifying session in Sochi, but his Alpine team mate Esteban Ocon was less satisfied with the way things had turned out.
Both drivers successfully made it to the final round of qualifying, with Alonso ending up sixth fastest while Ocon will be tenth on the grid for Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix.
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“I’m happy with sixth position in qualifying, as the conditions weren’t easy out there today,” said Alonso.
“It was very stressful as we’ve never run in the wet in Sochi. There was no time to experiment and find where the grip was on the track. But in the end we were competitive in both wet and damp conditions.”
Inevitably, Alonso was keenly aware of the opportunities where he could have gone quicker. “I lost about five tenths of a second on my final lap in Q3, so I could have qualified even higher than sixth.
“Tomorrow will be difficult because we have several very fast cars starting behind us, but I’m looking forward to the challenge,” he concluded.
As for Ocon, he was regretting not reacting fast enough tot he changing track conditions in Q3. The track had been drying since the start of qualifying but only in the final round was is safe enough to consider moving from intermediate tyres to a set of the slick soft compound.
“I’m a bit frustrated with today’s qualifying as we weren’t able to optimise Q3 in the changing conditions,” he commented afterwards.
“Ultimately, we didn’t put the right tyres on at the right time in Q3 and we missed out on two attempts on softs at the end.
“There was definitely potential for more than tenth today as I like these sessions in challenging conditions.
“On a positive, we have both cars starting in the top ten and it’s not a bad starting position to be in. Tomorrow looks dry, but whatever the conditions we will be ready.”
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Speaking for the team, racing director Davide Brivio agreed with Ocon that the most important thing had been to get both cars into the final top ten pole shoot-out.
“At the end we have come out of a difficult Qualifying with both cars in Q3 inside the top ten, which is a positive,” he insisted.
“We had the potential to be a little bit higher up as Fernando made a small mistake on the last lap, which cost him some time, and Esteban needed one more lap on the dry tyres right at the end of the session.
“All the same we are in good shape for tomorrow, when the conditions will be very different, hopefully dry, so we can consolidate our points-scoring run of 13 races.”
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