Pierre Gasly, Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Silverstone, 2023

Little to choose between Alpine pair but too many points have been missed

2023 F1 team mate battles

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Last year, after Alpine lost first Fernando Alonso and then Oscar Piastri to rival teams, they chose Pierre Gasly as their new hiring for 2023. That raised a few eyebrows, as he and new team mate Esteban Ocon had not always seen eye-to-eye during their ascent through the junior categories.

So far the pair have tangled twice, resulting in race-ending damage for both on each occasion. However only one of those collisions was the fault of either driver.

Those two incidents potentially cost Alpine a significant amount of points. There have been other missed opportunities, too, the upshot of which is the team hasn’t scored anything like as well as it should have done. That has already had serious implications for its management, but it would be unfair to say this was usually because of the actions of either of its drivers.

In many ways the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix set the tone for what was to follow for Alpine. Ocon qualified well but a litany of errors by driver and team during the race ended his hopes of scoring. Gasly, meanwhile, was eliminated in Q1 but drove well enough to bag points in his first race for the team. That frustrating mix of obvious potential and unforced errors has too often characterised 2023 for this team.

Melbourne was another case in point. Gasly was in excellent form throughout the race until the standing restart, when he went off, rejoined carelessly and crashed into Ocon. Had the stewards given Gasly an appropriate penalty he would have likely reached the points threshold for a race ban, which is probably why he was lucky enough to escape sanction for a serious blunder.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Monaco, 2023
Ocon produced a starring drive in Monaco
After crashing during qualifying in Baku, Gasly redeemed himself in Miami with a strong qualifying and race performance to bag useful points. Ocon then delivered the team’s best result of the season in Monaco with an opportunistic run to a podium finish. Gasly was left to rue a missed opportunity to finish better as he pitted shortly before rain arrived, then in Spain more points went begging after he was penalised twice for impeding.

Both drivers deserved more from the British Grand Prix weekend, where Ocon retired early on with a technical problem and Gasly was taken out by Stroll. The same may well have been the case in Hungary where both Alpine drivers fell victim to Zhou Guanyu braking too late at turn one, ramming Daniel Ricciardo and skittling the two A523s into retirement. Amid the drama of the Spa sackings of team principal Otmar Szafnauer and Alan Permane, both drivers came away with valuable points.

Ocon owes most of his points lead over Gasly to his big payday in Monaco. While the newcomer to the team hasn’t been far off in terms of one-lap pace, Ocon has usually done a better job of staying out of trouble. But given the upheaval going on at this team at the moment, both drivers would do well to keep it clean in the second-half of the season.

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Ocon Q

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Unrepresentative comparisons omitted. Negative value: Ocon was faster; Positive value: Gasly was faster

2023 F1 season

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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...

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5 comments on “Little to choose between Alpine pair but too many points have been missed”

  1. To think if Alpine had played it correctly they could have had Alonso and Piastri, which would have been one of the best driver pairings on the grid. Instead I think they have one of the worst; in a way it seems to suit the team, everything is not quite right.
    It’ll be good to see Andretti buy them out.

  2. IMO The higher ups in Alpine have no clue and clearing out the front offices like this was a rushed and way to early decision. There are way to many peeps in a F1 team to have a restructure done and working inside of this short time period. They should sell the team off before they ruin it and its value drops. Renault have been doing this for years now. They won’t spend enough to be on top then they fire everyone for not getting them to the top.

  3. They don’t have very good drivers, probably the most boring pairing (or at least they are to me), but “Alpine” (I’d prefer to call them what they are – Renault) are lucky to have them. The team is equally boring and uninspiring, and also performing far worse than those drivers. Veteran drivers are running away from them, junior drivers are running away and understand contracts better than Renault leadership (considering themselves businessmen…), their cars are always underperforming, but the worst are their stories about obviously fake plans and strategies; being so far removed from reality. I’ve never seen more arrogant people. I wish they just sold the team (again) to someone more likable and give up. Or man up, admit their mistakes and accept their shortcomings, hire people who know what they are doing and let them do their jobs. Ren… ehm, Alpine and Haas (future “Alfa Romeo”, eh…) are two of my least favourite teams in F1. If only Jordan and Minardi could replace them, in some parallel universe.

  4. It’s always very easy to criticise drivers when they are running a bad or average car. But both Gasly and Ocon have already proven they can go very fast… While Ocon has always be a bit inconsistent, Gasly has consistently delivered high grade performance for 2 years when that Apha Tauri was a good car…

    So I’m not saying they could emulate Alonso or Hamilton, but the comments above are way too negative. Yes, the car is not good, they start often mid field which increase the risk of incident, and they both tend to overdrive.

    But ultimately, it’s quite obvious that the issue at Alpine is not the drivers.

    1. You are right: the commenters hate on the drivers for no reason other than they dislike them.
      Ocon and Gasly are proven GP winners and are not the main problem of the team right now. Keeping them and focusing on the car is the way to go.

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