Ocon starred at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, qualifying fifth just behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

The Frenchman beat Alpine teammate Fernando Alonso in qualifying for the third race in succession with the Spaniard only managing tenth on the grid.

There were concerns Alpine’s improved turn of pace at Portimao were track specific, but Ocon believes Spain shows its improvement is genuine.

“This is the confirmation that we needed to have,” Ocon said. “Coming here, everybody knows the track by heart, all the teams are fast. Coming after Portimao, we had a quick car, but we were not sure it was going to work here, and the car’s been great all quali, so I’m very pleased with the work that we’ve done.

“It’s been very solid and I feel great at the wheel, with the team that I have around me and back at the factory as well. Everyone was not satisfied that we were so far back [at the start of the year] and they’ve been working so hard and it has all paid off.

“But I think Charles was fast in race pace on Friday, that’s for sure. A bit gutted that he pipped me in the end [in qualifying], but it’s good to see that we can split them, we can fight with those [teams]. It’s going to be a fun race tomorrow starting from where we are, so we’ll give it everything.”

Alonso’s last lap didn’t go to plan as cold tyres meant he had an oversteer moment before starting his final lap in Q3.

Reflecting on making Q3, Alonso added: “I think Q3 was the target. It was very tight on the midfield as we knew, and being in Q3 was an achievement, I think, from a team perspective with both cars. Then in Q3, it was a little bit messy with traffic and so on in the last lap with everybody.

“Tomorrow I think we have to do a good start, good first lap and try to consolidate these points. There is always an opportunity. Races are very long and anything can happen, but I think realistically, there are not many places to overtake here. 

“It's going to be very tricky, so once you consolidate the positions after Lap 2, Lap 3, I think it’s going to be extremely difficult to overtake. We need to do a good start, be aggressive on the first lap, and then we’ll see.”

 

 

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