Fernando Alonso believes it was a case of “wrong place, wrong time” when he was involved in a collision with Esteban Ocon during Formula 1’s Sao Paulo Sprint Shootout.

The pair came together in the dying moments of SQ1 as Ocon set off on a final qualifying attempt, needing to improve on his P16 standing to escape elimination.

Ocon had a snap of oversteer on the exit kerb of the Senna S and his efforts to correct the moment sent his Alpine wide of the racing line and into Alonso at Turn 3.

On-board footage from the Aston Martin shows that Alonso did slightly turn left, narrowing the pathway ahead of Ocon, who ended the session in the barriers.

Meanwhile, Alonso managed to limp back to the pits, but he would not return to the track for SQ2 as his team began to repair the car for the Sprint later today.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t complete the qualifying,” Alonso rued.

“It’s a shame both cars are out of the qualifying now. A lot of damage in both cars I guess so not the way we wanted.

“I didn’t see the replay yet, someone told me that he [Ocon] lost the car apparently a little bit.

“One of those situations. Wrong place wrong moment.”

Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A523 crashed in Sprint Shootout.
04.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sprint Day.
– www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

Aston Martin’s Saturday morning couldn’t be much more of a contrast between the scenes that ended Friday’s running at Interlagos after Lance Stroll managed to put his car third on the grid for Sunday, ahead of Alonso in an Aston Martin second-row lockout.

But with SQ1 red flagged with 33 seconds on the clock and therefore not restarted, both cars would take no further part in the session.

Stroll was dumped out in P17, and Alonso will occupy a P15 starting spot after failing to set a lap in SQ2.

Given yesterday’s performance, Alonso remains confident heading into the Sprint, saying: “We had great pace yesterday. We struggled a little bit more today in [SQ1] to go through.

“Still some question marks on our pace today and tomorrow, but more confident than Mexico for sure and Austin so hopefully a good race.”

Despite dragging the AMR23 back to the pits with a puncture and leaving behind a shower of sparks, the Spaniard has no concerns about missing the Sprint.

F1’s Sao Paulo Sprint race gets underway at 15:30 local time and will see the 20-car field battle it out around 24 laps of the Interlagos circuit.

Both drivers are currently under investigation by the stewards to determine whether any punishable blame should be apportioned.

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