Lando Norris has questioned why there continues to be an air of surprise when Alpine and Ferrari perform strongly after both teams ended Friday practice for the French Grand Prix ahead of McLaren.
Whilst Norris and his McLaren team-mate Daniel Ricciardo could manage only the 10th and 14th fastest times in FP2, Ferrari ended the day with both cars inside the top eight while Alpine duo Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon were in the top six.
Although the Scuderia has shown strong one-lap pace at recent races, with Charles Leclerc securing back-to-back poles in Monaco and Azerbaijan, the pace of Alpine was more of a shock.
Although struggling more at the recent street circuits, Alpine did register both cars inside the top 10 in qualifying in Spain, the last permanent track visited by F1.
“I don’t know why everyone always sounds so surprised because Ferrari and Alpine go quick quite often," said Norris.
"Maybe Alpine are a bit more of a surprise but they’ve been quick at a few races this year and then a bit slower at others.
“It’s not a surprise anymore, I think we don’t set too many expectations. Wait and see in FP1 and FP2 and then you see where you are. It’s as simple as that.
“It just makes our life a bit tougher. It’s going to be tricky going into tomorrow but it’s a good challenge.”
Ricciardo targets top six qualifying
Ricciardo may have ended FP2 only 14th quickest, but the first session was kinder to the Australian as conditions appeared to better suit the McLaren.
In first practice, Ricciardo set the sixth-fastest time, leaving him with eyes firmly fixed on a repeat of this in qualifying on Saturday.
Asked for his target, Ricciardo said: “I want to see deep into Q3.
"So certainly not a 10th but I think like a top six, top seven. I think that would be a solid Saturday afternoon.”
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