BWT Alpine F1 Team claimed two points from today’s season opening Bahrain Grand Prix as Pierre Gasly – on debut – climbed from last place to ninth to open the team’s account for the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship. Esteban Ocon endured an unfortunate afternoon in Sakhir as he retired from the 57-lap race, 16 laps from the end.
Esteban’s race was compromised from the start as he received a five-second time penalty for a starting grid infringement. By Turn 2 on the opening lap, a light touch with Lando Norris caused damage to his left front wing end plate, which meant Esteban pitted twice in the opening 15 laps. A further penalty was added for an operational error during the serving of his first penalty before a third infringement for speeding in the pit lane rounded off an evening of frustration for the team and for Esteban.
From twentieth on the grid, Pierre made a clean start and gained a couple of places early on. He was the first car to pit on lap 9 for new Hards as he set his sights on the top ten. A second pit-stop for Hards on lap 25 meant he was able to undercut Yuki Tsunoda as well as putting pressure on Alex Albon for the final points-scoring position. A VSC on lap 40 for Charles Leclerc’s stranded Ferrari gifted Pierre the chance to pit for Softs to take him to the end of the race. After passing Albon for ninth place, taking the Fastest Lap in the process, Pierre hunted Valtteri Bottas for eighth, finishing just 1.1seconds short at the chequered flag after closing down a 17-second deficit.
“Today was not our day. Unfortunately, we made too many operational mistakes and it has cost us today. We need to analyse everything, all the details and learn from those quickly. We’ll take it on the chin together as a team and look forward to the next race where I’m sure we’ll come back stronger. On a positive note, our race pace and performance was good and clearly, we had the speed to have both cars inside the points. I’m already looking forward to Jeddah. We’re going there determined to bounce back and get our season underway.”
“I’m happy with today’s race and it’s a great way to mark my debut with Alpine. After yesterday’s Qualifying we were all feeling disappointed as that’s not where we aimed to be, so well done to the entire team for their hard work in turning it around for the race. It was always going to be challenging to take points today, but we had confidence in the performance of our race car and we knew we had a chance to score points with a good strategy. We need to continue to work hard, we have a good base and it’s important we now build on that. I know there’s much more to come from us. It was a pity with what happened to Esteban, and we’ll debrief collectively to make sure we’re in a better position to help both cars score points.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal
“While we can be satisfied to come away with points from today’s race, given how everything played out, we also leave Bahrain knowing we have a lot of hard work ahead of us. On Esteban’s side, and operationally, we must do better to make sure there is no repeat of what happened today. We demonstrated that we had the pace today to have both cars inside the points and that has to be the objective going forwards. Pierre did a fantastic job to put behind a very disappointing Saturday and come back strongly to go from the back of the grid to the points, so credit to him on a solid debut. It’s been a busy and intense two weeks for the team in Bahrain and we look forward to returning to Viry and Enstone, where we will debrief as a team, before returning to the track in Jeddah where we aim for a much improved performance.”