02 April 2023
BWT Alpine F1 Team leaves Melbourne without points after an incident-packed Australian Grand Prix, which was red flagged three times and featured three standing starts.
Pierre Gasly ran the majority of the race in fifth place and was on par with rivals ahead chasing the podium places. Esteban Ocon was also running in the points towards the latter stages after fighting his way up the pack, which included a sublime move on the outside of Turn 9 on Oscar Piastri, until a late red flag for Kevin Magnussen’s Haas hitting the wall.
That left a two-lap sprint from a standing start to the end of the race. Pierre ran wide at Turn 1 at the third restart of the afternoon, which forced an unstable entry back onto the track. Esteban looked to capitalise on a strong exit from Turn 1 and was unfortunate to make contact with the rear of Pierre’s car as both drivers picked up speed on the exit of Turn 2. The collision between both cars forced both drivers out of the race.
Up until that point, Pierre changed tyres from Soft to Hard, under the first red flag on lap seven for Alex Albon’s Williams, aiming to go to the end of the race, while Esteban pitted on lap two for Hards, under the Safety Car for Charles Leclerc’s stranded Ferrari, with the same objective.
Esteban Ocon, started P11, finished P14: “It’s a real shame for both cars not to finish today’s race, especially after showing great pace all weekend. 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.”
Pierre Gasly, started P9, finished P13: “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.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal: “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. 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. 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.”