28 April 2023
BWT Alpine F1 Team faced a challenging start to its Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend as Esteban Ocon finished twelfth in Qualifying and Pierre Gasly nineteenth.
Pierre suffered a hydraulic leak to his A523 in Practice, which led to his car catching fire and bringing out a red flag. With his car back in the garage just two hours before Qualifying, the mechanics conducted a superb job to make the required repairs, including a change of power unit and gearbox, to ensure Pierre was able to start the session on time. After initial laps getting up to speed in Q1, Pierre hit the wall at Turn 3, which ended his day.
Esteban will line up twelfth on the grid for Sunday’s race. In Practice, Esteban’s session was also cut short with a gearbox fitting issue with the team deciding to keep the car in the garage as a precaution. With his A523 ready for Qualifying, Esteban squeezed through Q1 before missing out on Q3 by just 0.148secs.
Tomorrow, the team looks forward to the first Sprint Shootout of the season, a shorter version of Qualifying to set the Sprint Race grid held later in the day.
Free Practice 1
Esteban, P18, 1:45.955secs, 8 laps
Pierre, P19, 1:46.321, 7 laps
Esteban, P15, 1:42.622secs
Pierre, P19, 1:44.853
Esteban, P12, 1:41.798secs
Esteban Ocon: “It’s not been a good day for us a team. We obviously had some reliability issues in Free Practice 1, which did not give us much running time heading into Qualifying. We tried to bounce back from our Practice issues in Qualifying and, in the end, it was not enough to reach Q3. At the moment here in Baku, it’s clear we need to improve the areas where we’re struggling for pace. We will review where we can improve and, as always, we’ll be giving it our best to come away with points tomorrow and Sunday.”
Pierre Gasly: “Obviously, it’s been a very disappointing and tough day. I’d like to say a big thanks to the mechanics for their recovery between Practice and Qualifying to make the changes and have the car ready. It’s been one of those days where we’ve faced setbacks and it’s important we all bounce back. My mind is already looking ahead to tomorrow where we have another Qualifying session and, of course, the Sprint Race where points are on offer. We’ll debrief as a team, move forwards together and hopefully take something from this race weekend.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal: “It’s been a frustrating day for the team and one we’re aiming to move on from very quickly. On Pierre’s side, it’s been especially unfortunate with the hydraulic leak and car fire in Practice followed by his off in Q1. The mechanics worked expeditiously to fix his car after FP1 to make sure he could be in Qualifying; so, credit to them for their fantastic work. With Esteban’s minor issue and the lack of running in Practice between both cars, we did not get enough running on the various tyres in our preparation and I think that has impacted us significantly today. On a street circuit, you need both time and knowledge to make the right set-up changes and that just was not possible today due to our issues. We’ll debrief as a team to move forwards from this. We have the Sprint Shootout tomorrow with points on offer in the Sprint Race in the afternoon and we’ll be doing everything we can to make sure Saturday is much better than today. I’m confident we will bounce back.”