Formula 1

Alpine’s True Pace Still Unknown after Operational Errors in Bahrain – Otmar Szafnauer

2 Mins read
Credit: BWT Alpine F1 Team

Otmar Szafnauer admits the BWT Alpine F1 Team still do not know the true pace of their A523 after a weekend full of problems in Bahrain, but he believes the team could be the fifth fastest team.

Esteban Ocon qualified inside the top ten at the Bahrain International Circuit, but a trio of penalties meant he was fighting with Lando Norris over last place.  Pierre Gasly was eliminated in Q1 in Qualifying but fought back through to ninth place on his first appearance with Alpine since his move away from Scuderia AlphaTauri.

Gasly was catching Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake’s Valtteri Bottas in the closing laps, and Szafnauer, the Team Principal of Alpine, believes there is a case that they are the fifth fastest team so far in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

“We still don’t know its true pace because of some of the operational things that happened in the race,” Szafnauer is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com.  “Esteban had all of his issues that we talked about, Pierre was stuck in nineteenth for quite some time at the beginning.

“I’m looking at lap times and if you ever watch a race between the guys up front and the guys at the back, [in the same car] you can be two seconds a lap different just because of where you’re racing.

“So, I still don’t know where we are relative just because we’re out of position with one car and the other car had the problems we talked about. I don’t think we’re far off.”

Szafnauer knows that the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula 1 Team appear to have got the edge on Alpine thanks to their new AMR23, but the target for the Enstone-based team is still to maintain its position in fourth in the Constructors’ Championship.

“I think we were about sixteen seconds behind Bottas at that point, and we caught him but couldn’t overtake in the end. So, I think that stint worked well,” Szafnauer said.  “Looking at it from an optimistic standpoint and say if Pierre had started ninth, we would have beaten Bottas for sure.

“How close would we have been to the Mercedes and I think [Lance] Stroll? They were sixteen seconds ahead of us, we need to have a look. Now we just need to out-develop them so we can close a gap to those guys we want to beat.

“Esteban being out of position at the start, he’ll learn from that. Operationally, we can look forward to having smooth, trouble-free races.

“And if that happens, Pierre qualifies where he can qualify and we’ve got both of them in the top ten positions, then I think we’ll score plenty of points and then we’ll fight for fourth.”

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