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Alpine F1 Leadership Changes

Gasly surprised, Ocon confident despite departures at Alpine.

06/03/2024

With a major leadership reshuffle, Alpine F1 grapples with a challenging start to the season, as key figures depart and new faces step in to steer the team’s future.

Alan Permane, Pat Fry, Matt Harman, Dirk de Beer, and now Bob Bell… Alpine’s top management has seen a real exodus in recent months…

All have been replaced by a triumvirate with Joe Burnell as technical director (engineering), David Wheater as technical director (aerodynamics), and Ciaron Pilbeam as technical director (performance).

This comes after a catastrophic start to the season, as Alpine F1 is currently the worst on the grid.

How does Pierre Gasly react to all these departures? And is he also tempted to leave a ship that isn’t sinking yet but isn’t sailing full sail…?

Clearly, the French driver was taken by surprise by these departures!

“It’s always a surprise because I’ve been quite close to Matt (Harman) since joining the team, I’ve tried to understand a bit of the philosophy, to grasp the changes we’ve made to this new car.

“So, obviously, it’s a bit of a surprise. Even though I already knew a bit before.”

“In the end, I prefer to focus on my job. I’ll drive the car fast, push the team forward, and give clear feedback. That’s where I’m devoting my energy.”

What does Pierre Gasly also think about the team’s new technical direction, which has been entrusted to three different people, following the McLaren model?

The reception seems rather cool…

“The future will tell.”

“I trust Renault, I trust Luca [de Meo, CEO of Renault], I trust the leaders to move the team forward.”

“I know it sounds contradictory, but there are a lot of positive changes within the team.”

“In terms of operations, processes, mentality, and self-reflection.”

“In studies, feedback, and evaluations of the work we do, I see that we’re getting more into the details and trying to find the last percent from everyone, and people appreciate this process. And I see a positive change.”

“Obviously, that doesn’t mean we’re going two tenths faster on the track, because the car doesn’t give us the grip we need. But I’m sure what we need to do in the long term is find the direction we need to take as a team.”

Ocon Trusts Famin, A524 Development

As for Esteban Ocon, he fully trusts Bruno Famin, the master at the helm, to revive the team.

“I trust Bruno, in the choices he makes.”

“I don’t have a crystal ball, but Bruno is someone who has a lot of experience winning in different categories. And that’s very good and very valuable.”

No miracles for Alpine this weekend.

All of Alpine’s hopes now rest on the development of the A524. The base, despite the initial performance, has potential.

But there will be no new piece and therefore no miracle to expect this weekend in Saudi Arabia, comments Pierre Gasly.

“We need time because we have exactly the same car. We still have a few days, and I’m sure the guys will find some things to improve the package we have. But the other guys are not going to sleep, that’s obvious.”

“I’m sure there are several things we can do to gain a few hundredths on this package. But to get back into the points and fight with the guys ahead of us is going to take us a few good weeks. I know we’re going to try to bring developments as quickly as possible.”

“We have the talent, 500 people are behind me, and no one is enjoying this, no one. And we all want to find solutions. We all need to work as hard as possible.”

“We are aware of the situation, we are aware of the limitations. Everyone wants to find solutions.”

“I see that the mentality within the team is right. But we can’t find solutions overnight with these cars. It takes more than that. That’s why we need to be patient.”

The issues with Alpine, continues Pierre Gasly, are not just technical or aerodynamic; they also lie in operations, such as pit stops.

“I think we still tried to maximize what we had in Bahrain, we tried a different strategy.”

“I know we’re struggling with the car. At the moment, we’re also struggling with pit stops and the new guns we have… which cost me about 10 seconds in the race. So yes, it could have been a bit better, but we’re still too far from the points.”

“Overall, there are a lot of things we can improve. And we’re going to try to work on them for the upcoming weekends.”

In the other Alpine, Esteban Ocon is a bit more optimistic: on paper, Saudi Arabia should be more favorable than Bahrain for the A524…

“Last year and historically, this circuit has been more favorable for us. So, the car should be a bit better suited to the Jeddah circuit, I hope, which will allow us to get closer to the pack.”

Ocon Confident Despite Alpine’s Bahrain Setback

Esteban Ocon is not keen on comparing Alpine F1’s last-place finish in Bahrain to his Formula 1 debut with Manor, a backmarker team. The Frenchman remains confident about the future with the national squad.

“The situation is different,” Ocon stated. “Certainly, we’re in the same grid positions for now, but this is still just the first race. With Manor, we were far behind the cars ahead of us.”

“Here, with a tenth we can gain a few positions. That’s the difference. We’re much closer to the back than in 2016, when we were four seconds off. It’s a different situation and there’s room for improvement here, which wasn’t the case before.”

He hopes Jeddah will be more favorable to Alpine than Bahrain, whose characteristics severely penalized the A524. The question is how much Alpine will progress.

“In Bahrain, we practically optimized what we had. We need to see exactly where that puts us. The car was better here last year than in Bahrain. We were more competitive. We qualified in sixth place last year.”

“Of course, I’m not going to say I’ll qualify sixth this year, but we hope to be a bit closer to the pack than in Bahrain. We hope to be able to extract a bit more. That’s the goal. Will we achieve it? We don’t know, but that’s what we’re aiming for.”

The lack of traction that penalized Alpine in Bahrain should be less of an issue this weekend: “That’s a good point. We’ll see where it takes us. It’s a circuit I really enjoy.”

“I almost made it to the podium. I’ve always finished in the points. I’m looking forward to racing on this circuit and having fun. First and foremost, I think that’s why we’re here. I’m excited to see what we can do.”

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