Otmar Szafnauer lamented both his drivers crashing into each other during the 2023 Australian Grand Prix, describing the incident as unfortunate.
“Unfortunate” is an understatement, given the hefty repair bill Alpine now have to foot to repair the wreckage after their drivers got tangled up after the race restart following Kevin Magnussen’s crash.
The stewards deemed the accident a first-lap racing incident, taking no action, thus not adding insult to the injuries the French team has sustained, given Pierre Gasly was running strong in the points, Esteban Ocon flirting with points’ positions.
In Alpine‘s post-race brief, Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer tried to take positives from their pointless weekend down under; he said: “While it’s disappointing to leave here with zero points, we can be satisfied and positive with the performance of our car today.
“We showed we can race with our close rivals ahead and, indeed, close cars down and be clinical when it counts,” he pointed out.
“Pierre drove very well today, running much of the race in fifth place and in the fight for a podium alongside the Mercedes, Aston Martin and Ferrari. We must take the positives of this and use it as motivation going forwards.
“Esteban was certainly unfortunate with the sequence of events early in the race, but he did a good job to climb his way back into the points with some well-judged overtaking moves.
“It was unfortunate to have both our cars come together at the third standing start and I’m glad both drivers are OK given the nature of the incident,” he said of his drivers’ crash.
“We’ll keep moving forwards and these hard moments are what brings the team closer together. We’re already looking forward to Baku where an upgrade is planned,” Szafnauer concluded.
“It’s a real shame for both cars not to finish today’s race, especially after showing great pace all weekend,” Ocon commented. “We had the performance to be fighting the Ferraris and the Aston Martins, so to walk away with nothing is a tough one for all of us.
“The restart at the end was very chaotic and everything went so fast. The clash with Pierre was unfortunate and I’m glad we’re both OK. We’ve spoken about it, and we’re all good and there’s no hard feelings.
“We’re both already looking forward to the next one and I know the whole team will want to put this weekend behind us,” the winner of the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix concluded.
His teammate, Gasly added: “I’m very disappointed in the outcome of today’s race. We were in fifth place for most of it, chasing Carlos [Sainz] for fourth place and we showed really good race pace.
“For us to be so close to scoring ten points and leaving without any is a bitter one for us to take. Right now, we must focus on the positives and that is how we managed our race and how we were able to take the fight to our rivals ahead.
“I’m glad both Esteban and I are OK after the incident. As a team, we’ll move on and keep focused for the next race,” Gasly concluded.
Many were skeptical when Alpine signed Gasly to replace Fernando Alonso alongside Ocon, given the bad history both French drivers have had, known not to be the best of friends, but the team were adamant things were under control.
One can wonder if this incident will trigger any intra-team hostilities in the French camp so early into the 2023 F1 season with 20 races yet to be contested.