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Alpine drivers taken aback by strong practice showing in Spain as Gasly says P4 result ‘put a smile on my face’

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: Esteban Ocon of France and Alpine F1 and Pierre Gasly of France

Alpine were one of the standout teams during Friday practice for the Spanish Grand Prix, with both Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon featuring inside the top 10 positions at the end of FP2.

Amid what has been a challenging start to the 2024 season for the Renault-owned operation, Gasly raised eyebrows by posting the fourth-fastest time around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, while Ocon backed him up in ninth place.

FP2: Hamilton sets the pace during second practice in Barcelona ahead of Sainz and Norris

With Alpine sitting eighth in the constructors’ standings, having scored only five points across the opening nine rounds, the two French drivers are hopeful that there will be more to come this weekend.

“I must say it was a very, very good FP2,” said Gasly, who was within two-tenths of pace-setting Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton. “It came a little bit as a surprise. We didn’t really expect to have such good pace. We’ll take that.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 21: Pierre Gasly of France driving the (10) Alpine F1 A524 Renault on track

Gasly and Ocon showed an impressive turn of pace during Friday’s running in Barcelona

“This morning we had some issues on my car on the aero side. We managed to fix it in P2 and straight from the start it felt good. I closed my lap, I was happy with the lap and quite positively surprised. It put a smile on my face when I saw where we were.

“I think in terms of feeling, it’s still a few things which I’m not very comfortable with in the car, that I’d like to improve for tomorrow. But we’ve got definitely a good baseline to work with.”

AS IT HAPPENED: Follow all the action from second practice for the Spanish Grand Prix

As for whether the long runs are looking as competitive as the short runs, Gasly added: “I haven’t seen yet how it looks compared to the other guys. It was hot out there, there was some degradation and I think we kind of expect conditions to be similar to last year.

Gasly pleasantly surprised by Alpine pace in Spain after going P4 in FP2

“So far, I must say it’s been a positive Friday. France is playing tonight [in the Euros] so hopefully it can remain a positive Friday to the end! We’ll work well to make sure we manage to fine tune and continue to improve for tomorrow.”

Ocon, who was some three-tenths slower than Gasly, shared similar feelings to his team mate, commenting: “It’s interesting, a little bit unexpected really, so we need to understand why it’s working so well at the moment.

READ MORE: Alpine announce further team changes as Flavio Briatore returns in Executive Advisor role

“Not a great lap with traffic and quite a lot of interruption from my session on the long run and the short run, but we’ll keep trying, keep digging and hopefully find some pace from tomorrow.

“Obviously we do a lot of testing here in Barcelona and it’s interesting just to figure out where the car is in the optimum state. Most of the development is done with this layout. It shows that if we have that pace tomorrow, that the car is working with this kind of layout.”

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