Alpine's progress almost "too good to be true" - Alonso

Fernando Alonso thinks that Alpine's major step forward in the last two Formula 1 races is proof of genuine progress, even though it seems "too good to be true".

Alpine's progress almost "too good to be true" - Alonso

The Enstone-based outfit endured a difficult start to the season, as it struggled to make much of an impact in the midfield battle during the Bahrain and Emilia Romagna races.

But there was also caution about a leap forward it made in Portugal last weekend, amid concerns that its form there could have been flattered by the slow speed track characteristics and the low grip track surface.

But at Barcelona, a venue that proved to be one of its most difficult for the team last year, both its cars got through to Q3 and Alonso's teammate Esteban Ocon emerged with the fifth fastest time in qualifying.

Alonso is under no illusions that the fight in the midfield remains very close, but he thinks that what Alpine has shown in the last two events is a real picture of where the team now stacks up.

"I probably tend to believe that the McLaren and Ferrari, they are a little bit quicker," he said.

"At least in four races, they've been able to be more consistent in the pace.

"But it is true that we made a very big step in Portugal. We didn't know if it was track specific or if it was real. So it was very nice to confirm here in Barcelona that it was real and it was not only Portimao.

"I think the Alpine now is in the mix, with Ferrari and McLaren.

"So that's a very positive trend with what we see now in the team, and we are very, very excited for the next couple of races.

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A521, Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT02

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A521, Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT02

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

"But we need to remain cautious, and really confirm it. Because, as I said, Bahrain and Imola compared to Portugal and Barcelona, it seems maybe too good to be true.

"But obviously it is true, because both cars were in Q3 and Esteban was sixth in Portugal and fifth here, so this is good news."

Ocon feels that Alpine's strong showing at the Spanish Grand Prix has given the team the proof it wanted that it has a good car.

Reflecting on what the performance meant, Ocon said: "It's so encouraging. It is the confirmation that we wanted coming here.

"We had a tough weekend obviously last year. Then coming from Portimao where the car was working relatively well last week, but it's also a unique track, with the grip being quite low, and the tyres being a bit different to the rest of the year.

"Coming here into Barcelona, everyone knows the track very well, and all the teams are quick.

"So we kept going, and we kept finding a little few things on the car, all the way through those two days, Friday and Saturday.

"So I am very pleased that we have the confirmation that it is working like we want and we have the pace to be in the top five.

"It is a great job by everybody in Viry and Enstone, to keep digging, keeping on searching and here it's been paying off again like Portimao, but even better I would say."

shares
comments

Related video

How Hamilton’s qualifying record compares to Senna and Schumacher

Previous article

How Hamilton’s qualifying record compares to Senna and Schumacher

Next article

Archive: Why BAR's first podium wasn't a turning point for Villeneuve

Archive: Why BAR's first podium wasn't a turning point for Villeneuve
Load comments
The new age of sponsorship facilitated by F1’s relevancy push Plus

The new age of sponsorship facilitated by F1’s relevancy push

The age of the high-profile title sponsor is over, says JONATHAN NOBLE, but Formula 1’s commitment to technological innovation is attracting high-tech partners

How Britain’s lost Ferrari star epitomised a bygone F1 era Plus

How Britain’s lost Ferrari star epitomised a bygone F1 era

The 1956 Italian Grand Prix was over for Juan Manuel Fangio, along with his hopes of winning the world championship – until his Ferrari team-mate (and title rival) voluntarily surrendered his own car so Fangio could continue. NIGEL ROEBUCK recalls Peter Collins, a remarkable sportsman

Formula 1
Jun 19, 2021
The 'surprise' Mercedes time that puts F1's victory fight back on a knife-edge in France Plus

The 'surprise' Mercedes time that puts F1's victory fight back on a knife-edge in France

Red Bull led the way after the first two practice sessions for the 2021 French Grand Prix, but only just ahead of Mercedes. There was all the usual practice skulduggery complicating the performance picture, but one aspect seen at the world champion squad gave it a ‘surprise’ lift, as it looks to leave its street-circuit struggles firmly in the past

Formula 1
Jun 18, 2021
How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working Plus

How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working

After its worst campaign in 40 years, the famous Italian team had to bounce back in 2021 – and it appears to be delivering. Although it concedes the pole positions in Monaco and Baku paint a somewhat misleading picture of its competitiveness, the team is heading into the 2022 rules revamp on much stronger footing to go for wins again

Formula 1
Jun 18, 2021
The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness Plus

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness

Long-awaited wins for ex-Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen in IndyCar and IMSA last weekend gave F1 a reminder of what it is missing. But with the new rules aimed at levelling the playing field, there’s renewed optimism that more drivers can have a rewarding result when their day of days comes

Formula 1
Jun 17, 2021
The figures Red Bull and Mercedes can't afford to see again in F1 2021 Plus

The figures Red Bull and Mercedes can't afford to see again in F1 2021

OPINION: An interloper squad got amongst the title contenders during Formula 1’s street-circuit mini-break, where Red Bull left with the points lead in both championships. But, as the campaign heads back to purpose-built venues once again, how the drivers of the two top teams compare in one crucial area will be a major factor in deciding which squad stays in or retakes the top spot

Formula 1
Jun 16, 2021
Why Alfa's boss is ready for the task of securing a stronger F1 future Plus

Why Alfa's boss is ready for the task of securing a stronger F1 future

Two tenth places in recent races have lifted Alfa Romeo to the head of Formula 1's 'Class C' battle in 2021, but longer-term the Swiss-based squad has far loftier ambitions. With the new 2022 rules set to level out the playing field, team boss Frederic Vasseur has good reason to be optimistic, as he explained to Autosport in an exclusive interview

Formula 1
Jun 15, 2021
How Barnard’s revolutionary McLaren transformed F1 car construction Plus

How Barnard’s revolutionary McLaren transformed F1 car construction

The MP4/1 was pioneering by choice, but a McLaren by chance. STUART CODLING relates the tangled (carbonfibre) weaves which led to the creation of one of motor racing’s defining cars

Formula 1
Jun 15, 2021