Friday's practice day at the Circuit of the Americas ahead of the 2021 United States Grand Prix didn't go entirely to plan for Alpine, and especially for Fernando Alonso in particular.
The two-time former world champion said afterwards that it was 'not a super smooth Friday for us' after being hit with a technical problem in FP1 limiting him to just 12 laps of running, and then finishing FP2 by sliding into the barriers near the end of the session.
“It was not the easiest day out there for us, he said after the end of the day's running at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. "We had an issue in FP1, but our mechanics fixed it very quickly which was good, and we got some running in.
"[Then] I clipped the barrier at the end of the session, so it shows how challenging it is," he added. "It’s quite demanding here with the bumpy surface and track conditions."
The problems meant that Alonso was only 15th in FP1 and 13th in the afternoon session. But he says that it's too early to read anything into that in terms of Alpine's prospects in Sunday's race.
"It’s difficult to know where we are in the timesheets, but there is definitely some work for us to do tonight," he acknowledged. "Let’s see what we can do tomorrow and hopefully we have a slightly smoother day.”
"It was not our strongest Friday of the season today," agreed racing director Davide Brivio. "For Fernando especially, it was more complicated than usual. We had an issue in FP1, which was quickly fixed with no physical damage sustained to the car.
"Then in FP2 he lightly hit the wall at turn 19 towards the end of the session, so he missed out on some track time today." Fortunately it seems that the contact was minor enough to not do any significant damage to the car, which will be checked over night.
It was a more straightforward day for Alonso's team mate Esteban Ocon, although he too finished outside the top ten in both sessions albeit having completed a total of 45 laps yielding valuable date compared to just 30 for Alonso.
"It was a more productive day for Esteban," Brivio agreed. "Now we will try to use the all information that we collectively have to improve for tomorrow."
“Today for me was like discovering a totally different track to when I was last here in 2018," reported the French driver who previously raced at COTA with Force India. He finished in eighth place on his debut, only to be subsequently disqualified for a fuel mass flow irregularity.
"There are a lot more bumps, more dirt on track and some different rules with track limits in places, so it was an interesting challenge today," Ocon said of his return to COTA after three years.
"We improved the car from FP1 to FP2 and we still have areas to work on. It’s not perfect or where we want to be, but we can work overnight and see what we can do tomorrow."