Vexation at Alpine as challenging British Grand Prix gets even tougher

Despite a recent run of good form, Alpine knew things would be a little tougher at this weekend’s British Grand Prix.

The team installed five new components on Pierre Gasly’s A524 ahead of the weekend, and with each component above the team’s allotment for the season, a ten-place grid penalty was added. Technically, Gasly was hit with a 50-place grid penalty for this weekend’s race, meaning he will start at the back of the grid in tomorrow’s main event.

That meant that if the team was going to extend their active streak of four straight races with at least a point, Esteban Ocon would likely have to carry the banner. But that task got tougher on Saturday as Ocon failed to advance out of Q1 during qualifying, and will start the British Grand Prix in P18.

Just two spots ahead, and directly in front of, Gasly.

Ocon’s run in Q1 appears to have been undone by some miscommunication within the team right at the end of the first segment of qualifying. “I asked the team, you know, three times ‘[w]e still pushing?’

The team told me ‘no, we took the checkered flag,” said Ocon to Lawrence Barretto immediately after qualifying.”We clearly took the wrong decisions every time.”

Ocon continued his description of the weekend in the team’s post-session report.

“It was a complicated session with the drying track and stoppage for the red flag, but ultimately, we did not optimise our Qualifying today,” said Ocon. “We did not take the right decisions at the right time, and we seemed to be offset compared to the others, and not pushing when the track was probably at its best. Then there was some confusion at the end where I thought we had one more push lap and I was told to abort the lap.

“In the end, it is a frustrating day that we did not maximise and one that we need to review. It will be a difficult race tomorrow given our starting position. We will try our best to move forward, especially if the weather stays like it is with changeable conditions.”

On the other side of the garage Gasly indicated that given the penalty, his weekend truly starts tomorrow. Because of the grid drop he was facing he just made one swing around the track on the softs because the team did not want to take any unnecessary risks on Saturday, given there was no way of improving his starting position for Sunday.

“We knew ahead of the weekend we were going to start the race from P20, as we had to take a penalty eventually and it is good that we get it out of the way,” said Gasly in Alpine’s post-session report. “It was not a very exciting session for me – I did a single lap on Softs and with the track conditions improving we did not want to take any risks today.

“For me, the weekend will start tomorrow, we will attack where we can and hopefully be able to fight our way back to the top ten and continue our positive streak over the past couple of races. But we also know the conditions here are very tricky and we have seen how easy it is to get off track here,” added Gasly. “At the same time, those conditions could make the race tomorrow quite interesting, and it could help us fight our way back and gain positions.”

Bruno Famin, the Alpine Team Principal, outlined that the team was just not good enough on Saturday from an “operational” standpoint, but that there may be opportunities on Sunday.

“We have not been good enough today from an operational standpoint,” said Famin in the team’s post-qualifying report. “With the changeable conditions it was crucial to push and set a time when the track was at its best and we missed the optimum window. We knew with Pierre there was little to gain today with the grid penalties for tomorrow, so we did not take any unnecessary risks.

“For Esteban, the timing was tight at the end for the [checkered] flag, and we missed the opportunity to improve on his time. We will go away and review what happened and try to avoid similar scenarios happening in [the] future. It will be a long race tomorrow and we will review how best to approach the race from our starting position and give ourselves a chance of progressing through the field.”

The weather could play a factor on Sunday, giving Ocon and Gasly a chance to move up in the field. However, it still looks like Alpine will need something special at the British Grand Prix to extend their run of points results.

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