Ocon and Gasly Ready to Make a Comeback at Baku Grand Prix
As the Azerbaijan Grand Prix approaches, the Alpine team is set to unveil a significant enhancement package for its A523 car. Despite the recent collision between Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon at the Australian Grand Prix, Alpine is still implementing the upgrade. Matt Harmon, Alpine’s Technical Director, explained that this is part of the team’s pre-season development roadmap, with further developments planned for Miami and Imola.
For the upcoming Azerbaijan Grand Prix this weekend, Alpine is set to unveil an enhancement package for its A523, which features an updated floor design.
In accordance with the Enstone team’s pre-season development roadmap, the improvement is being introduced on schedule.
Despite the significant repairs required for both vehicles after a collision between Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon during the second-to-last lap at the Australian Grand Prix, the upgrade is still being implemented.
Matt Harmon, Alpine’s Technical Director, stated, “We are introducing a new floor in Baku, along with several other aerodynamic and mechanical components.”
He continued, “We have additional developments planned for the subsequent race in Miami and even more enhancements for Imola thereafter.”
He added, “This steady progression of updates will persist throughout the season, with enhancements scheduled for the majority of the events.”
“For the near future, the upgrades we have prepared for Baku, Miami, and Imola represent a moderate improvement – not as substantial as some media speculations in recent weeks – but maintaining this aggressive pace of development is crucial if we aim to progress towards our performance goals,” he emphasized.
The beginning of the 2023 season saw some uncertainty regarding Alpine’s exact position in the competition. Both the drivers and team principal Otmar Szafnauer expressed confidence during pre-season testing, but a calamitous Bahrain Grand Prix obscured the car’s true potential. The Saudi Arabia race provided some clarity, indicating that the team is at the forefront of the midfield, a notion further supported by their performance in Melbourne. In that race, Pierre Gasly held the fifth position at the Lap 55 interruption, while teammate Ocon was in 10th place. This outcome would have earned Alpine 11 points.
Regrettably, the team left Albert Park without any points due to a collision between the two drivers at Turn 2, which resulted in the race’s final red flag. Reflecting on the incident, Ocon stated, “It was beneficial to have a brief pause following the Australian Grand Prix, allowing us to thoroughly debrief and evaluate the entire weekend.”
“Of course, the outcome wasn’t favorable for us, but there were numerous positive aspects to draw from that weekend. We are now entirely committed to making a strong comeback in Baku,” Ocon expressed.
Ocon added, “As a team, we have been eagerly anticipating the Baku race for some time, so we are all excited that this new race week has finally arrived.”
In preparation for the upcoming race, Gasly has spent time at the team’s factory. He remarked, “It’s essential to stay focused, put in the hard work, and strive for solid performances that yield the results we deserve.”
Gasly Adapts to New Team and Car, Seeks Opportunities in Baku
Pierre Gasly is progressively getting accustomed to Alpine’s A523 with each drive as he continues to adapt to the team. Having joined Alpine for the 2023 season, Gasly spent most of his Formula 1 career with AlphaTauri/Toro Rosso. He secured consecutive ninth-place finishes in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, climbing from the back in the opening Grand Prix and maintaining a top-five position in Australia until a late collision with teammate Esteban Ocon.
Gasly shared his mixed feelings about the first three races, saying, “It hasn’t been the smoothest start, but I’m embracing the challenge, and overall, there are plenty of positive takeaways.” He explained that he’s discovering small improvements each time he drives the car and that with time and persistence, the results will follow. Due to limited practice and time behind the wheel in Formula 1, maximizing every opportunity at the track is crucial.
Despite the lack of desired outcomes, Gasly considered Australia to be a step forward. As Formula 1 resumes this weekend in Azerbaijan, where Gasly achieved his most recent of three podium finishes in 2021, he expressed his enthusiasm for the Baku City Circuit. He said, “I love it there. We have an interesting format to navigate, and it’s all about surviving both races and seizing any opportunities that arise.”
Drawing from his past successes in Baku, which include a 2021 podium finish, Gasly emphasized the importance of staying clean and taking chances. He added, “You just never know in Baku…anything can happen.”
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