Pierre Gasly concluded his first season with Alpine in last Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the 2023 Formula 1 season finale, and revealed he has enjoyed life with the French team so far.
Gasly joined Alpine at the start of the 2023 F1 campaign, alongside Esteban Ocon, a childhood nemesis so to say, a move he decided after reaching a dead end at AlphaTauri, with no apparent chance of getting back into Red Bull after he messed up his first shot with the Melton Keynes squad in 2019.
The move did not turn out to be an upwards step for Gasly, more so a sideways move, as Alpine still seem to be lost at sea, going through another raft of management changes in the past season, short-serving Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer given the boot with no replacement yet announced.
And while fireworks were expected between Ocon and Gasly, things remained civil somehow, despite a few moments of tension that did remain under control, for now.
The latest was in Abu Dhabi, when Ocon was allowed to undercut Gasly, something the latter was not happy about expressing his frustration over the team radio.
“I wasn’t happy with the strategy call, and this will be reviewed and we made a mistake and I’m sure we’ll learn from it, Gasly told the reporters in Abu Dhabi last Sunday.
The Frenchman also had an incident with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton rear-ending him, causing damage to the diffuser of the #10 Alpine A523, the race compromised. Gasly also had contact with Sergio Perez earlier.
Reflecting, Gasly said: “It wasn’t my day. Most of the damage was done when Lewis came at the back of my car and destroyed the diffuser at the back.
“After that I was losing a lot of points of downforce. But with all the downforce I was losing, [we’re] talking four tenths a lap for 40 laps. Maybe there was a P10 to fight for with Stroll [in the championship], but I don’t think there was much more than that today. So, not the easiest race to finish the year,” he explained.
The Hamilton incident caused extensive damage to the Alpine
Gasly ended up finishing 13th, and when asked to elaborate about the Hamilton incident, he said: “I braked late. I was surprised that he went even later – he would’ve gone straight if I wasn’t there.
“I started to have a bit of front graining – I locked up a bit, but still made the corner. I think Lewis just missed the braking point and then basically ran up the back of my car.
“So, it was quite an impact, but it was just enough to break and lose some parts of the diffuser. Not great,” the Frenchman lamented.
Speaking in Alpine‘s post race media brief Gasly added: “I saw the damage afterwards and it’s quite extensive!
“It was a frustrating afternoon,” he added of Yas Marina outing last Sunday. “It was a difficult race from there and we have things to review, lots to learn, as we probably did not optimise everything where scoring some points could have been possible.
“In terms of the season, I have really enjoyed joining the Alpine family,” Gasly reflected on his first season in Blue and Pink.
“It has been a mixed season on track, but from where started in Bahrain, we are in a much better place now and that is really positive and encouraging.
“Thanks to everyone at Enstone, Viry and at the track for their immense work and I’m confident next year we can be so much stronger,” the 27-year-old concluded.
Gasly finished the 2023 F1 season 11th in the Drivers’ Standings four points ahead of teammate Ocon who was 12th.
(Reporting by Agnes Carlier, Writing by Jad Mallak)