Alpine drivers taken aback by eye-catching pace on Barcelona practice day

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Alpine drivers Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon were at a loss for words after taking fourth and ninth in the second practice session at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Esteban Ocon ended up ninth quickest in Free Practice 2 with his qualifying simulation lap only four tenths of a second adrift of the benchmark.

The Frenchman was taken aback by the result as his team had not expected the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya to suit its car. He noted that Alpine will need to find further gains if it wants to maintain this place on the pecking order.

“To end the day with both cars in the top-10 is a little bit unexpected from where we thought we would be entering the weekend on this particular track.

"Obviously, we do not know what the others are doing but overall, it is a positive start to the weekend. It was not the best lap on the C3 tyre for me in Free Practice 2 with some traffic and there were a few interruptions in both the long and short runs.

"There are definitely improvements we can make in order to find lap time, so we will keep digging and try to make steps forward for tomorrow’s Qualifying, which is important around this track.”

His team-mate Pierre Gasly was the quicker Alpine driver, finishing in P4, only two tenths of a second adrift of the pace-setter Lewis Hamilton.

The Frenchman was delighted with the result, but he expects his car to slip down the pecking order in qualifying.

“It’s been a positive Friday for us, especially Free Practice 2. The end result, finishing in fourth place, probably flatters us and it was certainly a surprise, but a pleasant surprise, and one that brings a smile to my face!

"In Free Practice 1, we had some minor aerodynamic issues on the car, which we had to fix.

"Once we did that, the car felt good right from the start of the second session. We have a strong baseline to work from and my push lap on the C3 was good but I’m not completely comfortable in the car. There are some things we need to fine tune with the aim of feeling even better in the car tomorrow when it counts.”