Ocon hails 'one of the most interesting Fridays this year'

Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A521. 08.10.2021 Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 16, Turkish Grand Prix, Istanbul
© XPB 

Esteban Ocon declared that Friday's free practice sessions for the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix had been the most interesting and enjoyable of the entire season to date.

"It was mega fun today," he declared. "We all were expecting something amazing from this track when we arrived in 2020."

The event returned to the Formula 1 calendar last year after an eight year moratorium, but the street circuit was afflicted by recent resurfacing work and chemical oils rising to the surface. Combined with inclement weather conditions it meant the track was greasy and laking grip.

That's not the case in 2021, with drivers finding a completely transformed venue awaiting them.

"It’s been a solid Friday for us today and probably one of the most interesting Fridays we’ve had this year," the Alpine driver reported at the end of the day's track activity.

"We arrived here not knowing what the conditions were going to be like and it turned out it was much improved in comparison to last year with very high grip; probably one of the highest levels of grip we’ve experienced this season.

"It’s great to take on this track in these conditions and experience the layout," he said after finishing the afternoon session eighth quickest in the timesheets.

"We’ve learnt a lot today that we can put into action tomorrow," he pointed out.
"We had very good performance in FP1, inside the top five throughout, and then again in FP2 we were well inside the top ten," he pointed out.

"I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do," he concluded. "Amazing fun today, hopefully we can have some more tomorrow."

The session did end on a slightly embarrassing note for Ocon after his car was left marooned on the grid after the chequered flag when he tried to make a practice start. A mechanical issue was blamed, with the team having plenty of time overnight to look into the problem before final practice.

Meanwhile Ocon's team mate Fernando Alonso - who took to Istanbul Park's track on Friday for the first time in decade -  confirmed the A521's promising pace in Turkey by finishing one place ahead in the FP2 timesheets.

"Today was like discovering a new track for the very first time," said the two-time world champion. "After the issues with track grip from last year it seems the grip is back to normal, which is good news.

"It was as I remember in the past so I’m happy that I was not here last year because apparently it was very different, and the timed lap was very different as well.

"It means we can have confidence in the car during a lap. We didn’t really change much on the car in both sessions, so we were mostly experimenting the tyres today.

"There is always something to come and to find overnight, with all the changes we did."

Alpine racing director Davide Brivio agree with his drivers that it had been a productive day and that the circuit had significantly improved on 12 months ago.

"Both Esteban and Fernando were on the pace straight away with some positive feedback on how the car felt on track in the early running," he said.

"We tried some different set-ups and ideas to find further pace in FP2 and we have a good idea on where we can keep improving ahead," he said. It was important to have a good practice day. Now we're looking forward to taking on the rest of the weekend.”

"We will keep working and see what the weather is doing tomorrow, as there is a chance of rain."

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