Fernando Alonso is treating sprint qualifying as the first stint of the British Grand Prix before an overnight break.
As part of an experimental race weekend, traditional qualifying moved to Friday at Silverstone, with sprint qualifying then taking place on Saturday to determine the grid for the British Grand Prix.
Alonso has set himself up nicely for the 100km-race after securing P11 for the start, though qualifying was not as clean as he was hoping for.
“It was tricky, it was windy out there and I think we had a little bit more pace in the car, but the traffic was not an easy thing to live with today,” he told reporters.
“The first run in Q2 we were a little bit out of sync with other cars, and then in run two the out-lap was a little bit messy, it is the way it is.
“It probably didn’t change much our final position.”
But the unique format of this weekend means that all is not lost for Alonso, with sprint qualifying representing the main opportunity to make some progress and secure a strong starting spot for the race proper.
And so Alonso is treating it like the opening stint of the British Grand Prix.
“This is like the qualifying and tomorrow the first stint of the race, and then we stop for one night and continue the race on Sunday,” he explained.
“So it is going to be interesting to learn and see what we can improve from this performance.”
🏁 Friday #Quali 🏁
P11 // Fernando 1:27.245
P13 // Esteban 1:27.340
— Alpine F1 Team (@AlpineF1Team) July 16, 2021
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For Esteban Ocon qualifying at Silverstone was a much-needed confidence booster after a rough couple of weekends in Austria.
He too was not happy with traffic, believing Q3 was in reach without it, but the main thing for the Frenchman is that his pace is back.
“I’m happy, I’m happy because we were one second off the pace in the last Austria race, and this time we were where the car was,” he said.
“I felt like it was a massive step, I have to thank the guys for the job they did the whole week, searching and trying to get rid of any doubts, and we definitely have more pace.
“It’s a shame about that last run, it was a mess on track, a lot of cars overtaking the queue and that made us struggle with the tyres a little bit, so we lost the chance to start the lap and that was it, that’s what we needed to get into Q3.
“But the pace is back and that is good news.”