Fernando Alonso says it “was a pure joy to drive today” at Suzuka as the Japanese Grand Prix weekend got underway with Friday practice.
Alonso had a difficult outing last time in Singapore, finishing outside of the points for the first time this season.
The Spaniard finished sixth in both sessions, in the mix with the two Ferraris, Lando Norris’ McLaren and George Russell’s Mercedes in the fight for best of the rest behind Red Bull.
Shortly after the conclusion of the second practice hour, Alonso was asked whether his Friday form was an indication that Singapore was a one-off.
“Yeah let’s see, obviously we just jumped out of the car so no idea about all the data we collected today so we will study tonight and hopefully tomorrow we will be competitive,” he said.
Not only that, but Alonso was appreciative of the typically passionate Japanese crowd at Suzuka and the circuit itself.
“It’s obviously nice always when you come to Suzuka,” he said. “It is always a nice feeling that on this track Formula 1 is made for this type of circuit. Let’s see if we are fast as well.”
With pace in mind and looking forward to Saturday’s qualifying session, Alonso was probed on where he sits in the pecking order in Japan ahead of qualifying tomorrow.
“We’ve been in Q3 so far every single race and that will be the target to keep going on that streak and yeah, that will be the target it’s going to be tight,” he added.
Lance Stroll, meanwhile, is looking to shrug off the disappointment of missing last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix following a nasty crash in qualifying at the Marina Bay Circuit.
The Canadian finished 10th in FP1, proceeding to back that up with 11th in FP2.
Stroll swiftly declared that he felt good in the AMR23 after Friday’s running: “The car feels pretty good, a few things to work on tonight, a great track to drive so looking forward to tomorrow.”
Asked about his expectations for tomorrow’s qualifying session, Stroll’s targets aligned with those of his two-time World Champion team-mate.
“I think if we can get into Q3 that’s a good goal,” he expressed.
If Stroll succeeds in his Q3 ambition, it will be his first appearance in the top-10 qualifying shootout since the Belgian Grand Prix, prior to the summer break.