7. 10. 2023
BWT Alpine F1 Team left today’s Sprint Race empty-handed as Pierre Gasly finished ninth and Esteban Ocon retired from a chaotic 19-lap showdown under the lights of the Lusail International Circuit.
With the top eight scoring points, Pierre narrowly missed out on grabbing anything from the race but left with plenty of knowledge gained ahead of tomorrow’s Qatar Airways Qatar Grand Prix. Esteban was caught up in an unfortunate three-car incident at Turn 2 on lap 10, which ended his race while fighting for points.
The day began with a 10-minute track Familiarisation Session due to changes at Turns 12 and 13 amid safety grounds on tyres, before the Sprint Shootout where Esteban reached SQ3 in tenth with Pierre narrowly behind in eleventh. On an aggressive Soft tyre strategy, both drivers were in and amongst the fight for points in the Sprint before Esteban’s retirement and Pierre’s close effort to chasing the top eight, crossing the line in tenth before being promoted to ninth after Charles Leclerc’s five-second time penalty. Sunday’s race begins at 20:00 local time and it is set to be an intriguing strategical battle given the high tyre degradation evidenced in today’s Sprint and variety in tyre allocation.
Esteban, P10, No Time Set
Pierre, P11, 1:25.686secs
Sprint Race (19 laps)
Esteban started from P10 on Used Softs, DNF
Pierre started from P11 on Used Softs, finished P9
Esteban Ocon: “Firstly, I want to congratulate Max [Verstappen] on his title today. He has been more than impressive this season and it is thoroughly deserved. What he has achieved is an inspiration for all of us and it is an honour to race alongside him for all these years now. On our side, we had a good start to the race, moving up three positions with some good battles in the first few laps. We slowly started dropping back with the heavy degradation on the Softs and our race ended prematurely when we found ourselves side by side with Sergio [Perez] and Nico [Hulkenberg] into Turn 2. I felt contact on my rear right tyre and ended up in the gravel. An unfortunate racing incident. We now look ahead to tomorrow where we’ll look to collect some valuable points in the Grand Prix.”
Pierre Gasly: “First of all, congratulations to Max Verstappen on winning the Championship. He deserves it, he has had a very impressive season, so credit to him on this achievement. In terms of today, it’s been a busy one for all of us. We opted for the Soft tyres in the Sprint and unfortunately it did not work out. It was a tough choice, it seems most of the grid were split on whether to go for Softs or Mediums, and in the end, I thought we did a good job to finish close to the top eight, just behind Fernando [Alonso] and the Ferraris who were in a similar position to us. Tomorrow is going to be a challenging race with what we have learnt so far this weekend. We need to carefully assess ours and others’ tyre choice and find the best strategy for the race. I feel there could be big opportunities tomorrow and we will give it our all to be in the mix for a strong result.”