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Alonso and Ocon relieved Alpine are back to ‘more normal’ pace with top-five showings in France practice

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After mixed results from the two previous street races, there were two thumbs up from the Alpine drivers in France as Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon netted top-five finishes in free practice on Friday.

In FP1 it was home hero Ocon fifth and Alonso seventh, while Alonso finished fourth and Ocon sixth in FP2 as Alpine enjoyed their return to this more conventional circuit at Paul Ricard after two tough contests at Monaco and Baku.

FP2: Verstappen tops second practice at Paul Ricard, just 0.008s quicker than Bottas

Alonso was asked if there was a sense of relief at Alpine given that they scored 10 points in Portugal but struggled to match that in the following three rounds, especially at the street circuits, before his late smash and grab for P6 in Baku.

The Spaniard replied: “Yes, in a way, yes; we were all questioning ourselves: what was happening in Monaco and Baku? We still don’t have all the answers, but it seems more normal, our level of competitiveness here, and this is a positive thing for the rest of the year, for sure.”

Fernando Alonso predicts a 'very, very close' midfield pack at French GP

Under 0.5s off leader Max Verstappen in FP2, Alonso said of his session: “Yes it was fast, it was fast for us today. The car felt good, we experimented a little bit with the set-up in FP1, FP2. Not a clear answer yet, but yes, it seems to work fine so far.

“Hopefully we can keep this speed into tomorrow, but yes, I think at the end of the day, the moment of truth it’s going to be very, very close in the midfield and a couple of tenths will change a lot. So let’s see if we are in that higher part.”

READ MORE: New long-term contract for 'Prost-like' Ocon was no-brainer, says Alpine CEO Rossi

As for Ocon, he echoed Alonso’s comments about Alpine’s pace and added: “It’s what we were expecting, or hoping, I would say. It does look good at the moment. I think the pace of the car has been pretty strong today; it’s only Friday so we need to keep looking at what we can do exactly tomorrow, but yes, we still have a few areas that we can do better.”

Alpine’s CEO Laurent Rossi said on Friday that the team are aiming for fifth in the standings. Ahead of their and Ocon’s home race, they sit seventh – 12 points behind Aston Martin.

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