Pierre Gasly, Alpine‘s current driver, was left frustrated after the Suzuka event when he was asked on the last lap to slow down and allow his teammate, Esteban Ocon, to pass and finish ninth. This was a strategy executed by Alpine, in an attempt to see if Gasly could bridge the gap and pursue Fernando Alonso, another competitor who was leading them on the road.
Gasly was not impressed by the late swapping of positions due to his belief that it was unnecessary, and the absence of a previous discussion concerning this protocol. After a thorough analysis of the events on the race day, Alpine‘s interim team principal, Bruno Famin, admitted that the communication to Gasly from the pitwall could have been improved.
Famin, however, maintains support of the decisions made during the race and highlights that the team’s main objective is always to advance the team’s overall standings. His words were: “Our priority, first and foremost, is to score as many points as possible at any given race weekend,” he shared before the Qatar Grand Prix took place. “We saw the opportunity for Pierre, with fresher tyres, to try to fight for eighth place. We had to try.”
Famin also admitted the communication on the day might not have been up to par. “Our communication with him may not have been optimal and in the future we will make sure that it is,” he said. Famin went on to express his happiness with the drive the team showcases, emphasizing that the goal is to maximize the overall team results.
Gasly has since adopted a more philosophical standpoint, post a comprehensive discussion with the team about the race day events. “Sometimes emotions do spill over and, of course, as a driver, I want to push the limit and achieve the best result possible,” he confessed during a conversation. He acknowledged his disgruntlement on the day of the race, but concluded that the focus must remain on maximizing the overall team result over the course of the weekend.
On the topic of ‘Qualifying Targets’, Alpine was left fighting for the lower points during the Japanese event because both Gasly and Ocon had been eliminated in Q2, having suffered low grid positions. The team’s management believes that their focus should be sharpened towards improving their single-lap pace to benefit from the potency they feel their A523 car possesses.
The team’s need to enhance its performance is something echoed by Gasly. “While we came away with a strong outcome, we again did not maximize our single-lap pace on Saturday and that meant we exited in Q2,” he acknowledged. Gasly asserted this is an area that the team must collectively work on, to leverage better starting positions for the races on Sundays.
Famin provided some valuable insight into this area: “We recovered from both cars exiting Q2 on Saturday and converted tough starting spots into double points,” he said. Summing up the struggle, Famin added that improved starting positions could enable the team to potentially avoid similar incidents and he commended Esteban for rallying and gaining points despite being entangled in a jam at the start. “We must do a better job and strive to have both cars in Q3 to be better placed on the grid and avoid these types of incidents,” he concluded.