Formula 1

Pierre Gasly viewing Saudi Arabian GP as ‘opportunity for redemption’

3 Mins read
Credit: BWT Alpine F1 Team

Pierre Gasly sees this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as “an opportunity for redemption”, after enduring a woeful qualifying at the season-opening race in Bahrain.

Qualifying in Bahrain was miserable for Gasly on his BWT Alpine F1 Team debut, with the Frenchman having been eliminated in the opening stages of qualifying. To make matters worse, he had his best lap-time deleted for exceeding track limits, resulting in him starting his Alpine debut from last.

In his defence, Gasly performed exceptionally well during the first race of the year, after fighting through the field to ninth, to claim points on his debut for the Enstone-based team. Reflecting on the season-opener, Gasly “enjoyed” his first weekend for Alpine but left the Bahrain International Circuit with “some disappointment”.

On the whole, I was pretty pleased [in Bahrain], especially on Sunday to go from last to ninth and take home some points. I know there’s so much more to come from myself and from the team as we have not reached 100% yet. That is why we also left Bahrain with some disappointment as not everything clicked together and it’s important we piece everything together to make sure we extract the maximum performance.

“I enjoyed my debut in Alpine colours, the entire team is so talented and motivated to succeed and I’m excited to see what we can achieve when we execute a smoother race weekend.”

Looking ahead to this weekend’s race at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Gasly is obviously targeting a considerably better qualifying, given that he demonstrated just how much pace the A523 has during the race in Bahrain. He actually boasts a very good record in Saudi Arabia, with him having finished sixth and eighth at the two races in Jeddah.

If he can replicate his 2021 performance and finish sixth then Gasly will leave the Middle East incredibly happy, with maintaining his good form at the circuit being his target.

“I enjoy racing in Jeddah. It’s one of the best street circuits as it’s so quick with no real slow corners and it’s a great challenge, physically, for us drivers. Qualifying there is usually very exciting, and I’m determined to do better than I did in Bahrain, and I see this as an opportunity for redemption on Saturday.

“I’ve scored solid points in Saudi Arabia in 2021 and 2022, so it would be good to keep that trend going this year. I had a great day at Enstone last week in preparation on the simulator and I look forward to showing our potential.”

“We know overtaking is possible” – Esteban Ocon

Credit: BWT Alpine F1 Team

On the other side of the Alpine garage, Esteban Ocon‘s season-opener ended in horrific fashion, after accumulating twenty-seconds worth of penalties, before retiring from the race. Ocon had been enjoying a solid weekend up to the race, after qualifying ninth. It all went wrong from him, though, from the very beginning of the race, after starting in the wrong position.

Ocon admits “everything went downhill” from the moment he lined-up in the wrong spot, with the Frenchman having recognised the importance of ensuring that the errors “are not repeated”.

“It was probably the worst race of my Formula 1 career to date, given how everything played out on Sunday. Unfortunately, it was compromised from the start with the starting grid infringement and from there everything went downhill. What is most important is we learn from our mistakes and make sure they are not repeated. The team and I will move on together and that’s why we are looking forward to Jeddah.

“Pierre did a great job in the race, starting from the back of the grid to score his first points. I take many positives from that as it shows the car has potential to come through the field, which shows we have good pace. We just have to unlock that to its maximum – on both Saturday and Sunday – and I see this weekend as an opportunity to bounce back and I look forward to it.”

Like his new team-mate, Ocon is a fan of this weekend’s circuit, with him having enjoyed a sensational scrap with Fernando Alonso last season. The twenty-six year-old also boasts a remarkable record at the venue, where he’s never finished lower than sixth.

He claimed sixth following his duel with Alonso last season, whilst in 2021 he finished fourth after being overtaken by Valtteri Bottas just metres from the finish-line. Ocon heads into the weekend knowing that “overtaking is possible” around the fastest street circuit on the calendar, but that Alpine must “remain ready for all possibilities” given the surprises the track can throw-up.

Jeddah is a very unique circuit in Formula 1. It is a very fast and flowing street circuit and most of the lap is taken at full throttle, which is very exciting. There are some changes to the circuit this year to improve safety and visibility on corner entry, so we’ll definitely be offering some feedback on the changes on Friday after Practice to see how effective they are.

“In terms of the racing in Jeddah, we know overtaking is possible, the chance of safety cars are high given the nature of the track, so we have to remain ready for all possibilities. The whole team is ready and motivated for a better weekend to kickstart our season.”

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