Ocon to start in top six after Alonso misses out

Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A521 in qualifying parc ferme. 01.05.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3, Portuguese Grand Prix, Portimao
© XPB 

The Alpine F1 team was celebrating a strong sixth place for Esteban Ocon in Saturday's qualifying session for the Portuguese Grand Prix at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimão.

But there was disappointment that his team mate Fernando Alonso missed out on progressing to the final top ten pole shoot-out round and will line up in 13th place for tomorrow's race.

“I’m very pleased with that one," said a delighted Ocon who will line-up alongside Ferrari's Carlos Sainz on the third row of the grid for the start.

"We made a good step between practice and qualifying, and everything worked really well," he continued, adding that it was the team's hard work and dedication over recent weeks that had made the difference in recent weeks.

"We aim to keep finding these improvements and carry this progress forward," he said.

"We’re starting up there for the race, so that’s good news. We know it’ll be challenging tomorrow but overtaking is possible and there are some differences on starting tyre throughout the grid. The aim is to score points.”

"We’re very pleased with sixth position today for Esteban," commented the team's racing director Davide Brivio. "He did a great job throughout all of the sessions today and was very consistent.

"The team also executed our plan in qualifying very well so we can be pleased with that.

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Alpine F1 Team A521. 01.05.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3, Portuguese Grand Prix, Portimao

"It was a pity for Fernando," he acknowledged. "But on the positive we do have some options for his strategy tomorrow. I think we are in a good position for the race and that’s when it all counts.”

Alonso had been looking in good form going into qualifying, and was ninth fastest in final practice earlier in the day. He admitted that he wasn't sure what had changed between the sessions.

"It was not easy today," he commented. "We lost something between FP3 and qualifying so we need to look at this and understand what happened.

"The weather conditions changed quite a lot from final practice," he pointed out.

"The good thing is we can choose the tyre we start on tomorrow and this gives us more options on strategy. Points are scored tomorrow, so it’s still all to play for.”

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