After the success of Qatar translated into strong pace in Friday practice in Jeddah, Fernando Alonso feels Alpine have found a “sweet spot” in setting up their car.
Alonso and Alpine team-mate Esteban Ocon were both inside the top six in the second free practice session on Friday, which follows on the speed they showed from the Qatar Grand Prix a fortnight ago.
The two-time World Champion admitted his surprise at seeing he was only four tenths behind Lewis Hamilton’s benchmark time in FP2, and he credits that to getting his car setup just the way he wants it at the moment.
“The car is still feeling good,” Alonso told Formula1.com after practice. “Recently we found a little bit of a sweet spot in our performance and our setup, so we keep working.
“I think there are still too many unknowns into tomorrow. We did test different things but we need to analyse a lot of data – more than any other Friday.”
— Fernando Alonso (@alo_oficial) December 3, 2021
The Jeddah Corniche Circuit has been praised by the drivers for its high average speed and challenging corners, with Lando Norris in particular saying you can end up in the wall “if you blink at the wrong time” – which is a sentiment Alonso agrees with, as there is no room for mistakes.
“I think it was quite similar to the simulations we had, even the timed lap was matching quite okay,” said the Alpine driver on the circuit itself.
“It was not a big surprise on track, but obviously it is a very spectacular lap because you are driving between two walls at this speed.
“Any mistake could have big consequences, so you have to be alert, and it was a day that was not easy for anyone.”
Given how narrow the track is and the fact it is surrounded by walls, there have been worries going into the weekend about how many places to pass there will be around Jeddah.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner admitted the circuit was narrower than he had expected, but Alonso thinks we should wait and see how racing in Formula 2 plays out before making a judgement.
“I think the F2 is going to be a good reference for us, because we’re obviously concerned about the overtaking opportunities,” he said.
“Being a street circuit, it’s going to be difficult. Qualifying will be very important, so I think the F2 will show us if it’s going to be a good show on Sunday or not.”
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