ocon gasly alpine f1 2023 F1 saudi araibia grand prix jeddah preview

Will Alpine kickstart their 2023 F1 season in Jeddah?

ocon gasly alpine f1 2023 F1 saudi araibia grand prix jeddah preview

Before the 2023 Formula 1 season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, one might’ve thought Alpine and their drivers Esteban Ocon and team newcomer Pierre Gasly a fair wack at being among the midfield pace setters because the A523 seemed to be a solid piece of kit.

Instead, it was a bittersweet evening for Les Bleus or The Pinks in Bahrain, as Esteban Ocon endured an error-riddled evening for what must rate as his career-worst showing in an F1 car.

A day earlier, in qualifying, Pierre Gasly’s side of the garage made a hash of things resulting in the Frenchman starting his first race as an Alpine driver from last on the grid, with Ocon ninth.

In the race, omitting Ocon’s penalty-strewn shenanigans, Gasly delivered a stellar performance to finish ninth – a performance worthy of Driver of the Day had Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso not outshone the lot in Bahrain that night.

Thus it could be said, that Alpine have yet to get their 2022 F1 season going, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah this weekend is where they can make amends and seriously kickstart their campaign because the Alpine A523 appears a lot better than its drivers made it seem at Sakhir.

Szafnauer: We made too many mistakes across the weekend in Bahrain

In the team preview ahead of Round 2 in Saudi Arabia, team boss Otmar Szafnauer said: “We left Bahrain with mixed feelings. On one side, we were satisfied to come away with points given Pierre raced from the back of the grid to ninth place and his drive required good decisions, a well-executed strategy, and strong race pace; all of which we showed.

“On the other side, we made too many mistakes across the weekend, and we can all do a better job to improve on those. I believe Esteban’s race was a one-off, a culmination of a string of errors, some on his side, some operationally, and his side of the garage will undoubtedly bounce back in Saudi Arabia.

“Right now, we know the A523 has potential. We just have not exploited everything to the maximum yet and there’s work ahead of us to achieve that. It’s a long season, we’ve opened up with points and we must keep pushing as a team.”

Ocon avoided looking back on his season opener, summing up his Jeddah preview with: “In terms of the racing in Jeddah, we know overtaking is possible, the chance of safety cars are high given the nature of the track, so we have to remain ready for all possibilities.

“The whole team is ready and motivated for a better weekend to kickstart our season,” added Ocon, who will compete in his 63rd race for the Renault-owned F1 team on Sunday in Jeddah, making him the second-longest tenured driver in the manufacturer’s history in the top flight.

Gasly: I know there’s so much more to come from me and Alpine

On the other hand, Gasly reflected on his strong race showing in Bahrain: “On the whole, I was pretty pleased, especially on Sunday to go from last to ninth and take home some points. I know there’s so much more to come from myself and from the team as we have not reached 100% yet.

“That is why we also left Bahrain with some disappointment as not everything clicked together and it’s important we piece everything together to make sure we extract the maximum performance.

“I enjoyed my debut in Alpine colours, the entire team is so talented and motivated to succeed and I’m excited to see what we can achieve when we execute a smoother race weekend,” concluded Gasly, ahead of 110th Grand Prix start when he lines up on the grid in Saudi.

Last year, with Ocon and Alonso in the team, Alpine finished third in the 2022 F1 constructors’ championship, Best of the Rest who, this year, namely the midfield pack that is more compact than ever.