RACE DEBRIEF

    “It was intense, intense and I’m still not finished yet” – that’s how Fernando Alonso summed his return to Monaco as he navigated the tight turns of this tight street circuit, with a hit against the barriers in FP1 doing nothing to sour his mood.

    In the first session, where he finished 13th and improved to 12th in FP2, Alonso met with the barriers at the final corner and damaged his A521’s front wing. but it was only a “kiss”, he said, comparing that tap to a heavy FP3 crash in 2010 that saw him go head-first into the barriers at Massenet.

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    “I touched in 2010 – that was much more painful because I missed qualifying after that – so today was just a little kiss,” he said. “We did manage to complete a lot of laps, I think it was 37 in the morning and 27 in the afternoon: sixty-something laps today, which helps to keep the rhythm into the weekend.”

    As for his opening day in Monaco, he said: “It was intense, intense and I’m still not finished yet, you know? Because there is some work to do. Not only with the engineers but here in Monaco it’s quite special, not only because the track activity but because of the off-track [activity].

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    "It’s going to be a good qualifying to watch, maybe inside the car will be more stressful, but I think for you guys it’s going to be quite spectacular"

    “It was a good day. I had fun out there driving on the streets here and yes, I think we still need to find more pace, more confidence in the car, but it was quite useful to get different set-up changes, different directions, and I think now we need to put all together and improve the performance for Saturday.

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    “There are some studies to do with all the data we collected today but it’s going to be a good qualifying to watch, maybe inside the car will be more stressful, but I think for you guys it’s going to be quite spectacular,” he added.

    After a dramatic day of running, the headlines went to Alonso’s former team Ferrari on Thursday as home racer Charles Leclerc put himself top of the timesheets in FP2 ahead of team mate Carlos Sainz. The Scuderia were not a concern for Alonso, however.

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    Alonso had a sense of perspective given his 2010 FP3 crash that left his Ferrari a wreck

    “For sure, Ferrari seem a little bit stronger here – too strong for us – but I guess the midfield is going to be very tight, so we need to optimise everything and maximise our package for Saturday.

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    “Obviously we saw in different races that [practice sessions] are a little bit difficult to read and we get surprises on Saturday, sometimes positive surprises, sometimes not so positive, so let’s see from Saturday we can improve those positions,” he concluded.

    Alpine are behind Ferrari in the table but by a margin of 45 points, so their closest threat in Monaco are Alphatauri – just five points behind Alpine in the standings.