In Melbourne, in the run-up to the Australian Grand Prix, the BWT Alpine F1 Team made its first appearance on the Melbourne tarmac today. Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon both finished practice sessions in the top 10 on the revised and much faster Albert Park Circuit.
It had been 756 days since Formula 1 was last active in Melbourne and Alpine also marked the occasion with a return to its prominent blue livery after running BWT’s pink livery for the first two rounds of the 2022 Formula 1 Championship.
Both drivers enjoyed riding the modified 5.278km track in Free Practice 1, with Esteban finishing sixth in a time of 1 minute 21.004 seconds, while Fernando trailed two tenths in ninth place.
In free practice 2 and on soft tyres, Alonso set his best time, a 1 minute and 19.537 seconds to finish fourth, after being at the top of the timesheets for a short while. Ocon finished his day a few tenths behind his Spanish team-mate, finishing sixth as the team’s preparations now shift to the final practice session and tomorrow’s qualifying.
Esteban Ocon: “First of all it was great to ride here in Albert Park again and also to see the changes that have been made in real life. All in all a very positive day for the team with both cars finishing in the top ten in both free practice sessions. But we know it’s all about tomorrow and Sunday and we can already see it going to be very tight like in Bahrain and Jeddah. The competition is tight, especially in midfield, so we will work hard to get everything ready for qualifying. It should be pretty exciting and hopefully the team can have another solid day tomorrow to be in a good position for the race. †
Fernando Alonso: “We had a few small things that slowed us down a bit in free practice 1, but we still managed a pretty normal day for us. We rode well and got a lot of information from both sessions. There are some balance issues that we need to fix, especially with the higher fuel consumptions. I saw the track yesterday, of course, but I think the changes are positive and the lap is clearly much faster now. Not sure if there will be more overtaking on Sunday, but let’s see. It’s absolutely wonderful to be back here in Melbourne.”
Alan Permane, Sporting Director: “It is great to be back in Melbourne as it is certainly one of the highlights of the Formula 1 calendar. The recent renewal of the surface and the changes to the track have transformed Albert Park from one of the most bumpy tracks into a smooth and fluid one. As for our performance today, we can be quite happy with the cars in both practice sessions, there is still work to be done, especially to get the most out of the Soft tire on the first timed lap before qualifying. We ran the medium and hard fueled tires to assess race performance and this seemed in line with our simulations. Overtaking will be difficult on Sunday, so it’s essential to make the most of all the elements during qualifying.”