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Formula 1 Spanish GP

Ocon: Barcelona F1 qualifying pace a "confirming moment" for Alpine

Esteban Ocon says Alpine’s qualifying pace for the Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix was a “confirming moment” for the team after its first podium of 2023 last weekend in Monaco.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523

Pierre Gasly repeated Ocon's performance in the principality by being fourth fastest on a day when others didn't get it right, although he was then demoted six places for impeding both Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen.

Ocon meanwhile didn't have a perfect lap in Q3, but was still seventh fastest before gaining a spot on Sunday's grid thanks to his team-mate's penalty.

"It's awesome," said Ocon when asked by Motorsport.com about the car proving fourth fastest once again.

"If you were telling me that two races ago, I would not have believed it. Hats off to Viry and Enstone for the job they are doing, because those upgrades that we bring clearly are making the difference at the moment.

"It is a confirming moment after Monaco that the car is clearly more alive, so we can be pleased."

Ocon admitted that he hadn't had the best out-lap for his final run, which contributed to his Gasly deficit.

"We optimised super well all the qualifying, apart from my Q3 run really," he explained.

"Probably the tyres were not in as good shape to start the lap as it was in all the other runs where we maximised, on the rear I didn't have as much of a good grip.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine F1 Team

Esteban Ocon, Alpine F1 Team

Photo by: Erik Junius

"And the bit like Fernando [Alonso] I lost the rear entry of Turn 10, I went a bit wide, and I lost quite a lot of lap time in there. So there was definitely more possible today, but it's a good starting position.

"Today I'm really happy, because it's so close it means that if we had the good lap we can be up there, and that's fantastic.

"I hope F1 stays like that for very long, and that also P1 gets like this."

Speaking before his penalty was confirmed, Gasly echoed Ocon's statement about the team's form.

"I'm very happy for the team because it's best qualifying of the season," he said.

"It means even more than the result itself. I'm just happy with the evolution we've been showing throughout the last few weekends.

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"Still early in the season, and I am still learning about the team every weekend. They're learning about myself, and you know, it's about putting things together. I really feel like every weekend, we're making a step forward.

"It was a very strong lap. I'm always looking further ahead. And when I see Carlos in second less than tenth away, it really shows we got potential in the package that we have, and the upgrades are working.

"So overall, a lot of positives to take from this qualifying."

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