Alonso blames ‘misunderstanding’ with Alpine pit wall for Q1 exit after qualifying 17th at home
Alpine’s Fernando Alonso explained that his out-lap for a final flying run in Q1 was jeopardised by a miscalculation, as he ended up qualifying a lowly 17th in front of his home fans for the Spanish Grand Prix.
The two-time champion and two-time Spanish Grand Prix winner was eliminated in Q1 and starts a provisional 17th on Sunday – ahead of Lance Stroll and the Williams pair. Alonso now faces an uphill battle to rescue a result for Alpine and explained what had cost him so dearly on Saturday afternoon.
“We had a bit of a misunderstanding on my final lap of Q1,” he said. “I thought we had a one or two-second margin to get across the line, but we actually had a 20-second margin in the end.
“It’s a high price to pay here because as we know it’s very difficult to overtake on this track. Let’s see tomorrow, because in the last few races, people who have started towards the back of the grid have had a well-timed Safety Car and then are inside the top 10.
“We need to hope for one of those tomorrow and maybe we get some luck and take some points. Today the car was not as fast as yesterday, and we need to understand why that was the case.”
Team mate Esteban Ocon starts 12th on Saturday and was left feeling “frustrated” by his lack of relative pace. The Frenchman says that a fast out-lap overheated his tyres and jeopardised his lap in Q2.
“I think I’m frustrated because I think there was a little bit more in the car that was possible today,” he said. “You know, we were not going to fly through [to] Q3; it was always going to be close looking at this weekend, but I think that rule of going fast in the out-lap has cost us a bit, in general.
“It was quite a mess out there, but we respected the rule and yes, we overheated the tyres basically at the end of the lap. It’s quite hot out there, we’re sliding quite a lot, so it was tricky, but it’s the same for everyone.”
Team boss Otmar Szafnauer explained further: “Esteban was able to progress through Q1 and ran strongly in Q2, adhering to the minimum out-lap speed on his runs whereas a significant number of his direct competitors did not.”
Yet, Ocon concluded: “I’m optimistic. I think all the strategies are open on our side. We have a set of all the compounds – new – so it’s going to be interesting to see what we can deliver. But it’s always an interesting one, strategy-wise, here.”