Pierre Gasly, Alpine, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023 pre-season test

Gasly has “the best feeling I’ve ever had going into a season” after first Alpine run

2023 F1 season

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Pierre Gasly is in high spirits as he embarks on his first season as an Alpine driver, saying he has never felt better ahead of a new championship.

The 27-year-old will make his 109th grand prix start when the new season begins next weekend. A dozen of those starts came during his brief tenure at Red Bull in 2019, which started unpromisingly when he suffered a crash during pre-season testing.

The remainder came at AlphaTauri (previously known as Toro Rosso), who he moved on from at the end of last year. He tested Alpine’s 2022 car at Yas Marina at the end of last season, and was able to compare it to their latest machine after running the first half of today’s test for his new team.

“It’s the best feeling I’ve ever going into a season, that’s for sure,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans in Bahrain. “I was definitely excited to jump in the car and from the first feeling I get pretty happy, pretty pleased.

Pierre Gasly, Alpine, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023 pre-season test
Gasly had a productive start to F1 testing
“We managed to run through most of our program. The car reacts well. It’s obviously a lot of new parameters and new things to learn for me with the team change and new engineers, new car, new environment, new ways. Even sitting in the driver room, things are slightly different.

“So everything is new and I need to kind of get used to that new environment. But so far I’ve been really happy with how the team welcomed me and how the whole preparation went over winter ahead of this new season.”

Alpine has high hopes for its A523, which is lighter than its predecessor and features revisions aimed at improving its efficiency and reliability. Gasly says it’s too soon to draw firm conclusions on how successful they’ve been.

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“It’s still quite early to compare because obviously [it’s] different tracks. This morning we didn’t look really for performance, mainly to do sustainable laps and try to get a read on the big picture on the car, how it works and how it functions and spot directions and areas, weaknesses to work on.”

Alexander Albon, Williams, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023 pre-season test
Gallery: 2023 F1 pre-season testing day one in pictures
However Gasly has a positive and clear first impression of the A523. “I’m pretty happy because it was very obvious to me sort of what car balance I want and how I want to improve the car and in which direction and what where this trend as well. So that’s always good.

“The car reacts well to what we changed in the car. It’s always a good sign that the car is well-born. So quite a lot of positive signs.

“[But] to have an idea on where we stand compared to last year, more performance, how much et cetera, at the moment I’ve no idea.”

Having just one-and-a-half days of testing at a single venue before the season begins means Gasly has limited time to adjust to an unfamiliar chassis and power unit. He says he’s got to grips with “most of” the myriad settings on his steering wheel, but admits it still “takes me slightly more energy when they ask for a switch [change].”

“I’ve been used to the same steering for five years and whenever they’re calling for a ‘fail’ or whatever, unconsciously you want to do something which is slightly different. But so far I’ve done zero mistakes and I’m pretty happy with that. Obviously it’s something that will come, become more automatic with spending more time in the car.”

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He says it is “unrealistic” to think he will be completely at one with the car by the time practice for the first race begins on Friday next week. “But knowing myself, I know I’ll be pushing hard and close to the limit.

Pierre Gasly, Alpine, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023 pre-season test
New A523 feels “well-born”, says Gasly
“I already feel like I can figure out the car quite fast. [Being at] 100% is going to take some weekends before everything becomes automatic.”

That applies not only to his performance in the car, but learning to “speak the same language” as his engineers about car balance. “When I say ‘we’ve got some understeer there’, how much it is, is it a click of flap, two clicks, three clicks – this sort of balance target you want, you need a certain amount of races to figure out.”

Gasly has moved from a team which served as a training ground for junior drivers to a manufacturer-backed F1 programme with long-term championship-winning aspirations. While he’s had experience of driving for a top team in the past, Gasly is encouraged by what he has seen of Alpine.

“So far I must say I have been very impressed with the team in terms of infrastructure, facilities, human resources, the technical staff, a lot of people with experience in the team,” he said. “It just shows how much potential there is to unlock.

“For me there is no surprise why they had a very good season last year, even considering the DNFs and the points they lost. It definitely gives me hope that there is potential to do even more and get closer to the top three.”

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Having been part of the Red Bull operation for almost a decade when he left, Gasly also appreciates the difference in how he is regarded having moved into an environment which is completely new to him.

“It’s a completely new project and new people, new management, a new approach as well,” he says. “Coming into the team for my sixth year in Formula 1, compared to being in Red Bull from Formula Renault – they’ve seen me as a sort of kid growing up, climbing the ladder – it’s a very different approach also in terms of communications.

“The working relationship, I must say, I’m feeling very comfortable. The team also understood the sort of space I need and freedom I need to really be able to extract my maximum potential. That’s why I’m feeling good and feeling like I’m able to deliver strong performance or what the team expect from me straight away from the start. So far I’ve been very pleased.”

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2023 F1 season

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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3 comments on “Gasly has “the best feeling I’ve ever had going into a season” after first Alpine run”

  1. Renan Martinuzzo
    24th February 2023, 12:39

    Nice line-up, but very little hope for championship success with Alpine – Renault.

    I have come to distrust them as a team capable of reaching high heights in F1, specially on the engine side.

    The kind of turnover Honda did in their performance if proves my point.

    Yet, Renault is not only slightly behind in performance, it also powers only it’s own 2 cars on the grid, putting them on the back foot regarding the amount of data they can gather and the financials of their engine program as a whole.

    They are a works team destined for midfield glory until the 2026 regulations.

  2. Congratulations on using the word “myriad” correctly, a rare sight indeed. Having someone sound dumb when they’re trying to sound smart is usually good for a laugh. However, the usage in this article gets a nod of approval.

  3. Looks like he used these cheesy glasses to conceal his true feelings.

Comments are closed.