Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon say Alpine’s A521 in Spain is faster than they expected and that they are happy that another track has confirmed their huge progress after the first two races of the season in Bahrain and Imola.
Alpine fought for the lowest points-bearing positions in the first two races, and after the first race without points in Imola, they won three points thanks to a penalty for Raikkonen at Alfa Romeo. But thanks to several improvements on the car and a better understanding of his behavior, Alpine made great strides in Portugal where Ocon qualified in sixth place so he and Alonso finished seventh and eighth in the race.
In Spain, Alpine had both drivers in Q3 for the first time this season, with Ocon qualifying for fifth place, their season result in qualifying, while Alonso was tenth. “I believe McLaren and Ferrari are still a little faster, at least they’ve been more consistent in their speed in races so far,” Alonso said.
“But the truth is that we have made a big step forward in Portugal, we didn’t know if it was up to the track or the progress was realistic. So it's very nice that we confirmed in Barcelona that it's realistic and that it's not just in Portimao.
There is obvious progress in Alpine and they believe that the biggest race will be between them and Ferrari and McLaren. However, Alonso believes that they must be careful and it seems that his experience could be a crucial factor "I think Alpine is now in a fight with Ferrari and McLaren, which is a very positive trend and we are very excited about the next few races."
"But we have to be careful and really confirm that. Because, as I said, when we compare Bahrain and Imola with Portugal and Barcelona, it seems perhaps too good to be true." "But it's obviously true because we have both cars in Q3 and Esteban was sixth in Portugal and fifth here so that's good news.
" Ocon confirmed the thinking of his teammate and says Alpine’s speed is encouraging. “This is so encouraging and a confirmation of what we were hoping for ahead of this race,” said Ocon who leads Alonso in the 3-1 qualifiers.
“We had a tough weekend on this track last year. And this year we came after Portugal, which is specific because of the low grip track and the tires are a bit different. ”