Ocon: Important to 'optimise' Friday sessions given weather outlook

Esteban Ocon concluded Friday's running at the Russian Grand Prix fifth in the pecking order as Alpine made... The post Ocon: Important to 'optimise' Friday sessions given weather outlook appeared first on F1i.com.

Ocon: Important to 'optimise' Friday sessions given weather outlook

Esteban Ocon concluded Friday's running at the Russian Grand Prix fifth in the pecking order as Alpine made the most of the day's sessions ahead of what is expected to be a wet Saturday in Sochi.

With tomorrow's sessions possibly set to be disrupted by heavy rain, teams aimed to be as productive as possible on Friday, with drivers indulging in long runs in preparation for race day while also gauging their pace on low-fuel runs.

After concluding FP1 just outside the top ten, Ocon finished the day P5, 0.809s behind pace setter Valtteri Bottas but 0.360s ahead of Alpine teammate Fernando Alonso who ended FP2 P8.

"It’s good to be back in Sochi as it’s a track that I’ve always enjoyed racing at," said this year's Hungarian Grand Prix winner.

"It’s high grip, especially in comparison to Monza last time out. We have the softest tyres on the range here, so that gives us some things to try and understand.

  • Read also: Alonso wary of potential visibility issues at wet Sochi

"It’s been a very busy day for us, busier than a usual Friday, with half an eye on the weather tomorrow and we aimed to be as productive as possible.

"Things could be interesting tomorrow, so optimising today was important. We completed quite a few runs - low fuel and high fuel - and we have a good idea on what we can do on car set-up.

"Let’s see what the rest of the weekend brings but so far, I’m pleased with our progress."

Alonso agreed with his teammate that it had been a reasonably good entry into the weekend for Alpine.

"We don’t know how useful some of the data will be because of the potential rain forecasted for tomorrow, but the car seems to behave okay here," commented the Spaniard.

"We set up a few different things in FP2 and we found a few benefits, so I am happy with that.

"We could have achieved a better lap time without the red flag for Antonio (Giovinazzi), but it’s only Friday, so let’s see what tomorrow brings."

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Bottas 'confident from the first run' on Friday

Valtteri Bottas declared that he had felt confident from the start on Friday during practice for this weekend's... The post Bottas 'confident from the first run' on Friday appeared first on F1i.com.

Bottas 'confident from the first run' on Friday

Valtteri Bottas declared that he had felt confident from the start on Friday during practice for this weekend's Russian Grand Prix.

The Finn has always done exceptionally well at Sochi. He claimed his first win for Mercedes at the venue in 2017 and would have won again in 2018 until ordered by the team to hand over the lead to his team mate Lewis Hamilton.

Bottas took his most recent career win in last year's race, and today he picked up where he had left off by topping the timesheets in both morning and afternoon practice, just quicker than Hamilton in both cases.

"I really find my flow on this track and I enjoy it," Bottas stated. "When the car works well here, it's great fun to drive.

"If you look at the timings and based on my own feeling in the car, it was a good day," he reported afterwards.

"From the first run, I had confidence in the car and the balance was very good so I could focus on my driving, looking for small gains.

"Tomorrow looks like it will be wet, so it'll be a completely different experience," he noted.

"The main thing is the car feels good on the long runs so that's encouraging for Sunday which should be dry."

Chief race engineer Andrew Shovlin was certainly satisfied by how the day had gone for both of the team's drivers.

"We had a pretty good balance to start with today and were able to put in decent times on all tyre compounds," he said. "We've often struggled on the Soft tyre this year but today it seemed to work well.

"Our long run performance was okay, but we've not got the balance quite right so there's a bit of work to do there overnight.

"The forecast looks very wet for tomorrow, especially in the morning but we're expecting dry conditions for the race.

"That's going to give us an interesting compromise to deal with, finding a setup that works well in a wet qualifying but also has good long run pace in the dry.

"Overall though, a reasonable start to the weekend."

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