BWT Alpine F1 Team qualified with Pierre Gasly in twelfth place and Esteban Ocon in fourteenth place after a tight Qualifying at Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix.
Just 0.077secs was the difference between Pierre and Esteban in Q2, with Pierre only 0.001secs adrift of eleventh place and 0.044secs from a spot in Q3, such were the fine margins throughout an exciting Saturday afternoon session.
Both drivers progressed through a red flag interrupted Q1; Esteban in thirteenth with a lap time of 1min 30.960secs and Pierre in eleventh just over a tenth ahead of Esteban.
After an initial run on used Softs, both drivers improved their lap time on new Softs on their second runs in Q2; Esteban in fourteenth and Pierre ahead in twelfth, missing out on a spot in Q3 by just under 0.050secs.
Tomorrow’s 53-lap Japanese Grand Prix begins at 14:00 local time.
Esteban, P13, 1:30.960secs; Pierre, P11, 1:30.843secs
Esteban, P14, 1:30.586secs; Pierre, P12, 1:30.509secs
Esteban Ocon: “Unfortunately, we were not quite good enough to make it into Q3 today with some very tight margins between many cars. If anything, we did not quite make the step in performance that we had hoped for between yesterday and today, which made things tricky for us in Qualifying. That said, we are very much focused on tomorrow’s race when it counts for points and when tyre allocation and strategy will come into play, which, we aim to play into our advantage. We will work hard overnight to see our options on strategy and look to make our way through the field into the points.”
Pierre Gasly: “That was probably our maximum result today in twelfth, even if it was so close amongst so many drivers out there today. I think we did a good job to recover from a challenging Friday and find some improvements on car set-up. It’s such tight margins, though, and we’re less than 0.050secs from Q3, which was a similar story last weekend in Singapore. We’ve been twelfth at the last couple of races and managed to come away with some good results, so it’s certainly all to play for tomorrow. We need to keep working hard as a team and find some extra performance to get ourselves back into the top ten at future events. Tomorrow could be an interesting race with strategy and tyre degradation. We will see what we can do and the aim is come away with another strong result.”
Julian Rouse, Interim Sporting Director: “It was a very tight and competitive qualifying and we were unable to progress through to Q3, with Esteban and Pierre both out in Q2. For tomorrow, we will be starting from the middle of the grid and the target for us is to give both drivers the best chance to climb their way up through the pack and into the points. It’s been an interesting weekend so far on tyre choice and strategy and tomorrow will be no different with various strategic options on the table. We will be putting a lot of emphasis on analysing our choices and hopefully we can use our available tyre allocation to our advantage. It will be a long race for everyone and the goal is to come away with both cars in the points.”