29 April 2023
BWT Alpine F1 Team finished with Pierre Gasly in thirteenth and Esteban Ocon eighteenth in today’s Sprint Race at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as Formula 1 hosted its first-ever Sprint Shootout.
After Friday’s misfortune, the team aimed for a stronger outing on Saturday with the inaugural Sprint Shootout qualifying session to form the grid for the Sprint Race held later in the day. Esteban qualified thirteenth while Pierre suffered a suspected exhaust leak, which meant his SQ1 session was compromised as he ended in nineteenth.
The team elected to make suspension changes to Esteban’s A523 – taking the car out of parc ferme conditions – which means he began the Sprint Race from the Pit Lane and will also start tomorrow’s 51-lap race in identical circumstances.
In an uneventful Sprint Race, Pierre was able to gain four places – the most of any driver - to go from seventeenth to thirteenth, with Esteban pitting twice for Soft tyres, to finish eighteenth on an afternoon filled with learning on tyre compounds and gathering knowledge on potential race strategies for tomorrow’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Esteban, P14, 1:44.433secs; Pierre, P19, 1:46.951secs
Esteban, P13, 1:44.088secs
Sprint Race (17 laps)
Esteban started from Pit Lane on Used Mediums, (L5 pit-stop for Used Softs, L10 pit-stop for Used Softs), finished P18
Pierre started from P17 on New Mediums, finished P13
Esteban Ocon: “It’s been a difficult day for us, but there are positives that we can take from today. It was key for us to change the set-up of the car ahead of the Sprint Race, a collective decision we knew was necessary to give us a better chance this weekend. The car was a lot better this afternoon after our changes, and we were able to collect valuable data, something we’ve unfortunately lacked so far this weekend. It will be a Pit Lane start for me again tomorrow for the Grand Prix but if there is a place where anything can happen it is Baku. We’ll be giving it our all and we’ll be ready to seize any opportunity which may occur in the race.”
Pierre Gasly: “It was important for us to have a clean run in today’s Sprint Race after what has been a very challenging weekend for the team up to this point. We were on the backfoot this morning with an issue in the Sprint Shootout, but I’m pleased that we completed some laps in the Sprint Race to gain a handful of positions. We needed to do some learning and I think we have some ideas on what we can do tomorrow in the main race. We’ll keep working hard together as a team and see what decisions we take in order maximise our chances tomorrow. I believe we have a quick race car and I’m aiming for the top ten to take some points from this tricky weekend.”
Alan Permane, Sporting Director: “It’s been another frustrating day for the team in Baku but we are firmly focused on tomorrow’s race where points are on offer. Unfortunately, like yesterday, Pierre’s day was compromised with an exhaust leak in the Sprint Shootout, which meant he could not set a competitive lap time and we had to pit him during the session to avoid any potential damage. After Esteban exited in SQ2, we decided to make changes to his car set-up by amending the front and rear suspension with an eye on Sunday’s race and maximising our chances to score points. We’ve certainly learnt a great amount from today’s Sprint Race and we have some ideas on potential strategies for tomorrow’s Grand Prix with the target to progress both cars into the points. We did it in Bahrain earlier in the season to go from last to ninth, and we can still get something from this weekend.”