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Fernando Alonso believes alpine junior Guanyu Zhou did a perfect job when he made his FP1 debut with the team in Austria.

Zhou, the current Formula 2 championship leader, has been part of the team’s junior setup since 2019, but FP1 at the Austrian Grand Prix marked his first appearance in a Formula 1 session.

Originally from China, there is great pressure on Zhou’s shoulders to become in the future the first Chinese driver on the grid, but for now Alonso thinks the youngster can be very satisfied with his performance in FP1.

And to accompany his correct approach, Zhou also set the 14th fastest time.

“It was good to share the day with him and the preparation for last week; he is very professional, he has worked hard on the simulator the last few weeks and I think he enjoyed it today, ”said Alonso while discussing Zhou’s performance with the media.

“He executed FP1 perfectly in my opinion, slowly increasing the pace and stress-free with a lot of stuff. It wasn’t an easy FP1 with traffic, with the [practice] start at the end, so there are a few drills you need to perform – like start, formation lap, etc. – that he did very well, so it was a good day for him for sure.

Zhou’s time driving the Alpine A521 of course meant a lost session for Alonso, but he was not concerned, saying he was “up to par in round 1 of FP2”.

And as this is the second weekend in a row in Austria, Alonso felt it made sense for Alpine to give the opportunity to one of his young drivers.

“It was a good opportunity when you have two consecutive weekends on the same track to give FP1 to the young drivers,” he added.

“So let’s see if there are more opportunities for Zhou later in the year.”

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Once back in the car, Alonso was able to finish FP2 in the top 10, but he won’t get too carried away by this P8, saying the trend is for such performances not to continue on Saturday or Sunday.

“We know that Fridays are always more competitive than Saturdays and Sundays unfortunately,” he admitted.

“But we continue to follow our program, we had something to test today on the car, we still don’t fully know the answer so we are analyzing it.”

For Esteban Ocon, his performance on Friday, while not high enough to make the top 10 in either session, still gave him hope for a stronger weekend. after suffering the elimination of Q1 at the Red Bull Ring the last time, before finishing the race without a point. .

“At the moment it was a little better than it was,” he said when asked how the A521 felt compared to last weekend.

“Let’s see how we perform tomorrow, but for now we are seeing some good things about today and I can’t wait to see what we can do tomorrow. “

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