The BWT Alpine F1 Team will line up for Saturday’s Sprint Qualifier with Fernando Alonso in fifth and Esteban Ocon in nineteenth after a rainy qualifying session on Friday in Imola.
Alonso scored his best qualifying result of the season, while Ocon had an unfortunate session and failed to make it through Q1 after a gearbox problem.
With rain on the track for most of the morning, Q1 got off to a surprising start in dry conditions. Fernando Alonso chose Softs, ran smoothly and moved into Q2 in ninth. Esteban Ocon unfortunately dropped out of qualifying after a gearbox problem prevented him from completing his last timed lap and he finished 19th.
For Q2 and still in dry conditions, Alonso positioned himself sixth before a red flag delayed proceedings. During the break there was a heavy downpour on the track, which meant that no one could improve their lap time once the session had resumed. Fernando advanced to Q3 to maintain his perfect 2022 record of reaching the top ten shootout.
As the rain continued to fall, intermediate tires were needed for Q3 and the two-time world champion put himself firmly in the mix in fifth position in a time of 1 minute 29.202 seconds. Two consecutive red flags were waved and the field was unable to complete another timed run, leaving Alonso fifth and on the clean side of the grid for the first Sprint qualifier of the season tomorrow.
Esteban Ocon, P19, 1:22.338:
“Our qualifying ended early so that was a difficult way for us to finish the day. We had a suspected gearbox problem, so I couldn’t finish the lap in Q1 and we went straight to the pits. We’ll take a close look at what happened. Until then, the car felt good, so it’s about getting it back in tomorrow’s sprint and Sunday’s race. Still, there are still two races to go this weekend, with the possibility of some rain as well, so there are still some opportunities to save our weekend. Let’s wait and see what happens.”
Fernando Alonso, P5, 1:29.202:
“It feels good to be in the top five after a messy qualifying with all the changing conditions and red flags. With the wet weather constantly changing the track anything can happen, so overall I’m happy to be in the top five tomorrow. The car felt fast in the last two laps and I’m quite comfortable with the car here. Let’s see how we do tomorrow because there are points in the sprint and for the race on Sunday.”
Alan Permane, Sporting Director: “We are left with a bittersweet feeling after tonight’s qualifying as the team unfortunately had ups and downs on both sides of the garage. Esteban’s car had a gearbox failure in Q1 and we will fully investigate how that happened. As we saw with Fernando, the car had a strong pace today, so it’s disappointing that Esteban couldn’t show his true potential, especially in conditions where we’ve seen him shine in the past. From Fernando’s side, it was a relatively easy session. The car had a good pace on both wet and dry surfaces and Fernando was happy with the balance of the car in all conditions. He will start fifth tomorrow on the clean side of the grid and that is a very good place to start the sprint. Esteban, with a fast car, will certainly have the chance to make up some places, so his weekend is certainly not over yet. We will do our best in the sprint tomorrow to get ready for Sunday’s race.”