Bruno Famin takes charge of the team for the first time in Zandvoort this weekend. Bruno maps out his plan to change the team’s fortunes around and looks ahead to this weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix.
How much is the team looking forward to taking on the second part of the season, starting in Zandvoort this weekend?
I’m sure the entire team enjoyed the recent summer shutdown as it’s been an exceptionally busy season so far. Clearly, the weeks leading up to the break were not easy for everyone at the team. It’s important now for us to keep our heads down, work hard collectively on improving all areas and aim for our results on track to underline our ambitions. There is no change to the team’s strategy or objectives, only a change in some personnel as outlined before the break. Zandvoort is an exciting fresh start for all of us and I’m sure everyone at the team is ready for the challenge.
What is the expectation from the entire team across Enstone, Viry and the track?
In terms of end objectives, we will not place any figures or numbers. So far this season, results have not been in line with expectations and we have to find solutions to quickly fix our level of performance. We’ve demonstrated what we can achieve – for example Esteban’s podium in Monaco, Pierre’s third place in the Sprint in Spa – and we have to take these moments as a source of motivation with the aim of finding repeat levels of performance. The sole and immediate expectation is that everyone involved in the team continues working hard across all areas. We have ten races remaining to turn things around and I have every confidence that all members of the team will give it their all to achieve it.
What do you expect from the Dutch Grand Prix weekend?
Zandvoort is a very unique circuit and a popular one for both the drivers and the team. In the past, the team has achieved good results from solid performances there and we must strive to repeat that this season. In addition to Formula 1, we have Formula 2 in Zandvoort. We look forward to supporting Jack Doohan and Victor Martins as they aim to continue their very strong run of form and, hopefully, they can both sustain their climb towards the lead of the championship. It’s an exciting time for our Alpine Academy drivers who remain an integral part of the Alpine motorsport project.
It’s been a relaxing summer break for Esteban Ocon as he looks ahead to taking on the second part of the season, which begins this weekend in Zandvoort for the Dutch Grand Prix.
How did you spend your summer break?
It’s been a really enjoyable past couple of weeks with friends and family spent in France. It’s always nice to be able to take a breath and recharge the batteries after a very intense first part of the season. I was able to be with those close to me and visit one of my favourite places in the world where we all could relax ahead of a busy time of year for our sport. I kept in touch with the team of course and I know we are all raring to go back to racing this weekend in Zandvoort. During the break, I also took the time to train hard and prepare for the upcoming races and I was in their simulator at Enstone earlier this week. I am ready and excited to get back to it.
After a couple of weeks off, how do you reflect on the first part of the 2023 season?
I think it is fair to say we have not quite achieved the results that we set ourselves at the beginning of the year. We have had some great moments of course, like the podium in Monaco and Pierre’s third place in the Sprint in Spa, but we also had some very tough moments along the way. The season is far from over but we know we need to operate at our best every weekend and take every opportunity when it comes. We are motivated to come back even stronger, and everyone is hungry for good results on a more consistent basis. We’ll need to be clinical in our performances, keep bringing upgrades to get closer to our competitors in front, and keep our heads down and do our talking on the track.
Zandvoort is up next, is it a circuit you enjoy?
Zandvoort is a really fun circuit to drive. This track is often described as a rollercoaster as it flows through the dunes of the beach in Zandvoort town. The contrast between Zandvoort and Spa, our last race, couldn’t be much bigger. It’s a long lap in Belgium with fast, sweeping corners, and now we go to the Netherlands where it’s short, tight, and twisty. It is an exciting place to drive a Formula 1 car, as it’s really undulating and fast and requires a lot of commitment at the wheel. The atmosphere is also quite special there, at times resembling a football match! We can’t wait to get back in the car and aim for a good result this weekend.
No room for error
Pierre Gasly has enjoyed a chilled three week break as he puts his focus back on racing. First up after the break is Zandvoort, a thrilling circuit on the Formula 1 calendar and one which Pierre likes, highlighted by his impressive fourth-place finish in 2021.
How have you spent your summer break?
I have spent the past couple of weeks chilling out! It’s been great to be with friends and family across Europe, switching off from racing for a bit, and making sure to have rare quality time with those close to me. I think the break came at a good time after a busy period of races in June and July and a very intense few months prior to that. I really treasure both the winter and summer breaks as it’s so important to recoup energy in order to stay fresh and maintain high levels of performance, which is required from us at the race track. I’ve been in Enstone this week on the simulator in preparation for Zandvoort and now I’m ready to get back to business.
How ready are you feeling for Zandvoort and taking on the rest of your first season at the team?
I’m definitely feeling ready to go racing again. It was good to finally have a worthy reward with a trophy in Spa from the Sprint Race in third place. That was a good boost for the team and we have to target more moments like that. That said, the main race was disappointing and a missed opportunity as some things just didn’t go our way. That weekend is a kind of example of how my season has been: at times really good and then at times very unfortunate with some levels of performance not being converted into big results. We cannot feel sorry for ourselves, though. All we can do is keep our heads down, work hard and I’m confident the results will follow. We have ten races left to show what we can do to put ourselves back into a more representative championship position in both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ standings in my first season with the team.
What is the circuit like to drive?
Zandvoort is a circuit I really like, but it’s certainly a challenging lap to drive. I like the old school and classic feel it has with the tight layout plus the two banked corners. It’s a place where there is no room for error with little run off but that makes it exciting, especially qualifying as it’s all or nothing. It’s a decent track for racing and I’m sure the electric Dutch crowd will play their part in putting us in the mood to go racing once again!
Alpine Academy drivers Jack Doohan (Invicta Virtuosi) and Victor Martins (ART Grand Prix) are set and ready to race this weekend for Round 12 of the FIA Formula 2 Championship in Zandvoort, as the duo close in on the summit of the Drivers’ standings.
Prior to the three-week summer break, both Jack and Victor hit a purple patch of form with the last three Feature Races resulting in one of the Academy pair standing on the top step of the rostrum.
Now, Jack is aiming to keep the momentum going and continue his climb through the standings having moved up to fourth in the championship after securing back-to-back Feature Race wins in Hungary and Belgium.
Victor is also targeting a continuation of his recent results having collected double points and five podium appearances across the previous six rounds, including a Feature Race win at Silverstone to see him occupy fifth in the championship in his rookie campaign.
Jack Doohan, Invicta Virtuosi Racing: “I am really excited to be heading back to Zandvoort, it is such a historic track that has so much character with the steep banking throughout. It’s a super cool circuit and one that I really enjoy so I am looking forward to getting back there. The summer break has been nice, to get some time to rest and recharge, but now I am ready to get back into it with the team. We are of course looking to keep the ball rolling and continue with the momentum we had before the break and that’s certainly the aim for these next two rounds in Zandvoort and Monza.”
Victor Martins, ART Grand Prix: “I am really looking forward to racing again after almost a month off for the summer break. It was nice to rest, to have some time with family and friends and to clear my mind to be able to come back and be ready to go. Zandvoort is one of my favourite tracks as it’s a really tight and fast circuit, which I enjoy. I have had some success there in the past, like my first Formula 3 win in 2021 and I also had a good weekend last year, which put me on the brink of claiming the F3 title. Driving Zandvoort in a Formula 2 car will certainly be an interesting challenge. The goal will be to keep doing what we did well in the previous rounds, to maximise everything over the weekend and continue to get the points we deserve as we have shown recently. I am hungry for more victories and also to just get back in the car and get back on track.”
Dutch Grand Prix Factfile
Drivers/Team Facts and Stats:
• Zandvoort is the second shortest track on the 2023 F1 calendar at 4.259km meaning it is also the event with the second highest number of laps in a race with 72.
• Based on its history as a Formula 1 World Championship round, the Dutch Grand Prix has a 50% chance of a Safety Car.
• Finishing ninth in 2021 and 2022, Esteban has scored points in both of his Dutch Grand Prix appearances.
• Pierre Gasly has finished in the same position that he started in both previous Zandvoort F1 races, having been fourth in 2021 and 11th last year.
• BWT Alpine F1 Team is one of three teams to have scored double points at both Dutch Grands Prix since the event’s return to the Formula 1 calendar – alongside Red Bull and Ferrari.
Further Facts and Stats:
• Renault dominated qualifying at this track during the first F1 turbo era, locking out the front row at Zandvoort for three consecutive years from 1980-1982 with Alain Prost, Jean-Pierre Jabouille and Rene Arnoux.
• Rene Arnoux holds the record for most pole positions at Zandvoort with three (1979, 1980 and 1982), all of which he achieved with Renault.
• Race day in the Netherlands marks the anniversary of Michael Schumacher’s victory in the Renault-powered Enstone Benetton at the 1995 Belgian Grand Prix. Schumacher won from 16th on the grid, the lowest winning grid position in Renault history.