Towards the end of the Suzuka race, a heated radio call saw Pierre Gasly requested to cede his position to team-mate Esteban Ocon. This contentious request placed the pair on course for a 9th and 10th finish order.
Gasly responded vociferously to the directive, but ultimately, he acquiesced and allowed Ocon to pass at the last possible instant in the final lap’s third sector.
The instruction to Gasly to allow Ocon to overtake was a return favour from an earlier moment in the race. Initially, Gasly had managed to move beyond Ocon but failed to edge past Fernando Alonso from Aston Martin. This necessitated a shifting of positions.
However, a baffled Gasly proclaimed that there was no prior discussion or strategy briefings about this late turnaround. He said, “It wasn’t discussed before the race. It was clear with the strategy they had planned that at some point Esteban would undercut me, but my pace was faster and I would have to pass him back. I overtook him anyway on the race track because I had fresher tyres.”
According to Gasly, this predicament was never posited as an outcome for the race. He stated, “It was never said that we would need to invert the positions again because I started ahead and I was always in front. As a team 10th and ninth or ninth and 10th is the same, but it was definitely not something I expected. I’m behind the wheel and my job is to go as fast as possible, why give up a position…And it’s not something I really understand as well as the leading car.”
Despite his confusion, Gasly asserted that he ultimately prioritised the team’s objectives above his own personal gain. “Today I put the team in front of myself and that’s what I will do,” he added.
The struggling Alpine team managed to secure a double points position; an uncertain outcome, especially due to an initial collision between Ocon, Valtteri Bottas, and Alex Albon which led to the latter two’s retirement from the race.
Gasly acknowledged their team strategy, saying, “I think we did a good strategy as a team we did the best job we could with both cars. I don’t understand the team’s decision, but I respected it and let Esteban pass…in the end it’s three points for the team and that’s what we will have to look at.”