Fernando Alonso says he learned a lot in difficult and changeable conditions at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix and says they experienced four races in one, and despite finishing only ninth and tenth he says the car was better than in the first race in Bahrain.
Alpine’s F1 team won their first points of the season with Ocon in ninth and Alonso in tenth place after a penalty for Raikkonen at Alfa Romeo who lifted both Alpine drivers by one place in the standings.
Teams were faced with a difficult decision before the start of the race after a sudden downpour of rain an hour before lights out left some parts of the circuit extremely wet. Esteban opted for the full Wet tyres with Fernando on the Intermediates. On the laps to the grid, Fernando ran wide out of Turn 7, clipping the wall, meaning he had to change front wing.
In slippery conditions, both drivers dropped outside of the top ten with Esteban switching to the Intermediates on lap two under the Safety Car.
Things began to stabilise and, as the track started to dry, dry tyres looked the best option; Esteban fitting Mediums on lap 27 and Fernando following suit a lap later.
Esteban switched to the softs on lap 31, before a red flag brought the race to a stop following a collision between Valtteri Bottas and George Russell on the entry to turn two.
The race resumed with Fernando twelfth and Esteban thirteenth, the Frenchman switching to Mediums during the red flag stoppage, for the sprint to the end. Both drivers immediately gained a few places and duelled for the final points-scoring position.
Esteban was heaping the pressure on Kimi Räikkönen for ninth but could not make the breakthrough on the experienced Finn. Fernando was just behind as he looked to sneak his way into the points. At the flag, Esteban held onto tenth with Fernando narrowly adrift.
“It was a challenging race today in hard conditions,” said Ocon.
“There were lots of opportunities out there, we managed to score some points, a decent result and a good reward for the team’s hard work. There was potentially more on the table.”
“It was a long, physical race and flat out right until the end after the restart. I had some fun fights out there, especially with Fernando. Now, we look forward to the next race weekend.”
“It was tricky today as we had several different conditions, starting the race in the wet and finishing in the dry,” said Alonso who won in Imola in 2005.
“I took a lot of learnings after driving in these conditions again. In Formula 1, you don’t get any preparation, and with one and a half days of testing it’s not easy.”
“Overall, I would say it was like four race experiences all in one.”
“I think the car is better this weekend, which is positive but it’s still very tight between a number of cars. We’ll go again in Portugal.”
“We scored our first point of the season today and we had to work hard for it,” said Marcin Budkowski, Executive Director.
“Both cars had poor starts in wet conditions and lost several positions on the first lap, which is something we need to understand. In the dry, our pace was pretty decent with both drivers together on the track and coming back towards the points positions.”
“Esteban got stuck behind Räikkönen for the final part of the race and couldn’t make the move, underlining how difficult it is to overtake here. We leave Imola with bittersweet feelings; pleased to have our first points of the season, but it was a race that didn’t go as it could have for us. We move onto the next race hungry for more.”