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'There’s probably more on the table' – Gasly says Alpine can still improve despite 'very positive' first day in Jeddah

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Pierre Gasly believes there is more to come from Alpine this weekend after a strong outing in Friday’s practice sessions for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – while his team mate Esteban Ocon set his sights on starting his “season properly” in Jeddah.

Gasly showed good pace in FP1, finishing the session in P8 and followed that up by ending FP2’s qualifying simulation runs in sixth. And while the French driver was “pretty happy” Alpine's performance, he had already set his sights on further improvements heading into the weekend.

FP2: Dominant Verstappen leads Alonso at second practice session in Jeddah as track ramps up

“[I] must say I am pretty happy. Strong Friday for the team, [and] we’ve got some good potential,” said Gasly, the 2020 Italian Grand Prix winner. “We’ve shown some good speed. It’s very positive.

“I can still feel there are a couple of things here and there that I am not fully happy about. So, there’s probably more on the table, but looking at the lap times, we seem to be there. So, good start.”

Following the qualifying simulation runs, Alpine, along with the other teams tested their race pace on Friday evening, which Gasly said "looked good".

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 17: Pierre Gasly of France driving the (10) Alpine F1 A523 Renault on

Gasly was happy with Alpine's performance on day one of running in Jeddah

"We need to go through all the numbers, it's still quite fresh. But generally speaking, we are looking pretty strong so I expect a very tight battle, same as in Bahrain, especially in qualifying."

He added: “We are going to be looking at one or two tenths, and we are going to see about seven, eight cars in that battle for Q3. So, important to tidy up everything for tomorrow. But it gets me excited.”

READ MORE: Hamilton says ‘tough’ Mercedes W14 ‘pretty much the same’ as predecessor after tricky opening day in Jeddah

After starting at the back of the grid in Bahrain and finishing in P9, the French driver was asked what his goal in Jeddah was, to which he replied: “Start in the normal starting position!

"But I think if we nail that qualifying tomorrow, I think we can put ourselves in a strong position for the race. It’s going to be fine margins, but we will go for it, and I’m excited for tomorrow.”

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Esteban Ocon: Alpine 'improving step by step' in Jeddah

Gasly’s team mate, Ocon, was also asked what his goals for the weekend after retiring early in Bahrain, Ocon replying: “The target is to score good points, to have a decent weekend with both cars and, you know, start our season properly.”

Ocon finished the second practice session up in fourth, just over four-tenths back of pace-setter Max Verstappen, after ending FP1 down in 12th. And while he was quick to play down expectations of his team, he was happy with the turn around in performance from the afternoon to the evening.

READ MORE: ‘It’s definitely not like Bahrain’ – Friday practice pace-setter Verstappen braced for ‘very close’ fight in Saudi Arabia

“[It was a] decent day. Good to get a feel with the track again and how fast it is, how high grip it is. It’s really good fun,” said Ocon. “It’s a track that I enjoy a lot.

"We’ve tested a lot of different things from FP1 to FP2, turning the car around. Improving step by step. It’s still early days, it’s only Friday, so we need to wait until tomorrow to see what we can do.”

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