Alonso delighted with P5 after 'unbelievably difficult' qualifying in Singapore but Ocon downbeat after Q1 exit
It was a Saturday of contrasting fortunes for Alpine in Singapore as Fernando Alonso qualified fifth but Esteban Ocon ended up in 18th, leaving both drivers to reflect on an “unbelievably difficult” qualifying session.
On Sunday, Alonso will start in the top five for the first time since the Belgian Grand Prix having qualified half a second off the pace of pole-sitter Charles Leclerc. The Spaniard revealed his delight at his performance in "very demanding" conditions.
“It was unbelievably difficult today,” Alonso said. “The street circuit, changeable conditions, the track keeps damp forever, you know, in a couple of corners, Turn 17 standing out.
"So, to switch to dry tyres, it was a very brave move from everybody in Q3. Once you commit to that, to stop again it doesn’t make sense. So have to commit to that and to guess the level of grip [in] each corner, it was very demanding."
He continued: “It was not enjoyable to drive, I guess quite OK to watch on TV but very happy with the result. Obviously top five, I think we maximised these conditions, on dry or wet we would never be top five, so I think we put a good lap.
Asked whether he will take an attacking approach at the start, Alonso quipped: “Let’s see. I think the level of stress is hopefully out today and tomorrow we have a very boring race, and we keep top five until the end.”
Team mate Esteban Ocon was out in Q1 for the first time since the Miami Grand Prix, with the French driver revealing that he was dealing with a brake issue that limited his final run. After a promising start to the weekend, Ocon was left disappointed with his early exit but set his sights on an improved showing on Sunday.
“It was definitely not the session that we hoped for,” said Ocon. “We had some issues with the brakes on the last lap and the car pulling to the right and feeling disconnected.
“Obviously, we are not where we want to be, ending Q1 but tomorrow is what matters and hopefully we can get into the points tomorrow… The pace is there and that’s a very strong point of our car this weekend, so definitely we want to get back into the points tomorrow.”
Alpine are 18 points ahead of McLaren heading into Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix, where rivals Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris qualified 17th and sixth, respectively.