Gasly and Ocon wary of Alpine’s performance at Monza

Gasly and Ocon wary of Alpine's performance at Monza

Alpine drivers Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon said their Q1 eliminations were reflective of their poor car performance level during qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

Although the Alpine drivers disagreed significantly on the team’s chances in Saturday’s qualifying at Monza, Pierre Gasly was largely not surprised by the team’s double elimination in Q1.

Gasly entered the Italian Grand Prix weekend on the heels of a spectacular podium finish at the Dutch Grand Prix the previous weekend.

However, the Frenchman was warned right away that past excellence is not a guarantee of future success. Ocon and Gasly’s poor finishes in the final practice on Saturday—P18 and P20, respectively—were indicative of what was to follow in qualifying.

For the first time in 2023 at Monza, the two drivers were unable to get through the first round of qualifying. Gasly was eliminated in 17th place just three thousandths of a second faster than teammate Ocon, who will start Sunday’s race beside him on the ninth row of the grid. Ocon has now been eliminated twice in a row in the preliminary round of qualifying.

In any of the three practice sessions, no Alpine driver was seen inside the top ten slots. Despite being on the podium at Zandvoort last weekend, Gasly stated that the team anticipated having trouble at the Italian Grand Prix.

“Unfortunately, all weekend, I was quite happy with the car balance but we’ve just been two seconds off the pace the whole time,” Gasly said.

“We knew coming here in Monza it will be the toughest weekend of the year with all these long straights, and it’s clearly been the case.

“We expected to be out in Q1, but you always have optimism that maybe with the hard tyre or something, you could get through. But that’s all we had unfortunately, and it’s been a difficult weekend so far.”

Gasly argued that their performance had not been compromised by the Alternative Tyre Allocation format, which details the tyre compound that drivers must use in each qualifying phase.

“I think the hard tyre is probably the worst, I felt, of all,” he said. “I was really happy with the car on soft, pretty happy on medium, and with the hard, through corner balance has been just worse, and not going in the right direction for our car.

“Ultimately, you look at GPS, and it’s very clear on where we’re losing and yeah, we knew that we maximised everything we could, but the package doesn’t suit the layout.

“We came here knowing our weaknesses, we knew that they would be amplified here. They were clearly identified straightaway from FP1, we tried to react and maximize the package that we’ve got, but you know, still not enough.

“As difficult as it can be to take it on the chin, you’ve got to look at it objectively. And it’s got to give us direction for next season, in the way that we want to approach this sort of very particular track.”

Ocon wasn’t exactly taken aback by Alpine’s failure to go through the qualifying round, but he was more surprised than his teammate by the Enstone team’s poor performance.

His own attempts in Q1 were also hindered by a collision with Lando Norris’ McLaren and an errant outing that broke the floor of his car.

“I felt that at least probably we could get into Q2, and fight for top of Q2,” Ocon said. “But today there were a lot of cars that were quicker than us. That’s the reality.

“It was a tricky session for us, not the result that we wanted, both cars exiting in Q1. We seem to be performing less good than [on] the other tracks.

“We are still digging into why those problems are coming to us here. And I’m sure we’ll find answers.

“But today was not good enough, and I tried to push the car a lot in run one, and picked up a bit of floor damage for run two, which wasn’t ideal.

“But all in all, 0.003s from one car to another. So I think we pretty much maximised the potential today, and it is unfortunate that we are not quick enough.”

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