Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!
Esteban Ocon is fresh and ready to take on Austin after a superb Sunday display in Qatar, which was rewarded with six points in seventh place. And with some impressive names on board, Esteban discusses COTA and investors ahead of the United States Grand Prix.
After scoring points in the Qatar Grand Prix, how do you feel after the performance there?
It was a very tough and physically difficult race for all drivers but, in the end, I am very satisfied with the job we did on Sunday, coming home with six points for the team. The conditions were challenging but we managed to stay focused on the task at hand and earn those deserved points. As a team we have a lot to learn going forwards and there were many learnings from last weekend and, all in all, it was a positive few days for us. Since Qatar, the work has not stopped and we have been pushing hard the last week in the factories to be as ready as possible for the Sprint weekend in Austin and the rest of the triple-header.
How do you prepare for the challenge of a triple-header?
After taking a couple of days to rest and recover following Qatar, the focus quickly turned to the next rounds and how to prepare as best as we could for the upcoming races. This meant physical preparation as well as simulator work back at Enstone and meetings with the engineers to debrief and discuss our various action plans. Three weeks on the road can be an intense time for everyone in Formula 1 so we will need to look after ourselves, keep our heads down, and focus on the important things. We’ll be looking to carry the momentum from the last Grand Prix into Austin and put ourselves in a good position to fight for points in the Sprint and in the main race.
What are your thoughts on the Circuit of the Americas [COTA], our next destination and the first leg of the upcoming triple-header?
It’s always exciting to race in America, especially in the last few years. Our sport has grown so much in that part of the world, and you can feel that every time you go back there. I really like Austin as a city and COTA is a cool track with a great atmosphere and a good flow to it. It can be a challenging circuit, but it often produces great racing. I am looking forward to driving in Texas and get our weekend started.
What do you make of the team’s new strategic investors?
It was a pretty cool announcement with some incredible athletes coming on board and investing in the team. It is an exciting time for us and we are very glad to have this positive addition to our team, together with the wide sports vision and expertise that it will bring. As a fellow athlete, I am especially excited to have Patrick [Mahomes], Rory [McIlroy], AJ [Anthony Joshua], Travis [Kelce], Trent [Alexander-Arnold] and Juan [Mata] join us and I cannot wait to properly meet them and personally welcome them to our team.
Ready to swing
Pierre Gasly is determined for a better reward in Austin this weekend after missing out on points in Qatar. And with news of some of the world’s best athletes joining the team as part of a strategic investment, Pierre offers his thoughts on this week’s United States Grand Prix.
What are your main reflections of Qatar?
In the end it was a weekend where we left without reward even if we showed promising pace across all three days. We were back in Q3 with both cars which is a big improvement and we came out the blocks quickly with the car well dialled in from the start. In the Sprint we took an aggressive approach by starting on Soft tyres. It turned out to be the wrong choice given the Medium runners succeeded. We had good pace and it was encouraging as we finished quite close to the Ferraris ahead on a similar strategy and who started higher than us. The race was a frustrating one for me. Again we had good pace and were on course for points before I paid the price for going over the limit of very tight track margins in tough conditions. I hold my hands up for that. It was a physically tough race for all of us as has been well shown online. I felt okay, it was hard and hopefully we won’t be going through that again soon!
How are you preparing for the United States Grand Prix?
I really enjoyed spending some time at home in France before this upcoming triple header. It was great to see family and friends, celebrate my Dad’s birthday and generally recharge the batteries after a very busy couple of weeks. I watched the Rugby World Cup – it was a huge pity for France to lose – but what a match against South Africa. So intense and just incredible to watch even if it was a bitter end for us. I spent a day at Enstone on the simulator preparing for these next races as well as some physical training to stay sharp and ready for Austin, Mexico City and Brazil. First up, Austin. It’s a good track, demanding in its own right and my mind is on delivering points for the team across both days as it’s another Sprint race weekend.
What did you make of the new investor talent?
I’m a huge sports fan so I must say I was very excited with the news by Otro Capital. I’ve actually been watching Quarterback on Netflix recently so to hear of Patrick Mahomes and his team-mate Travis Kelce being on board is exceptionally cool for me. I’ve been getting into golf recently, so I cannot wait to meet and hear from Rory [McIlroy]… and hopefully sharpen up my skills! I seem to be surrounded by Liverpool fans at the team who will no doubt be happy with the Trent [Alexander-Arnold] news! AJ too is an exceptional athlete and I met Juan [Mata] in Suzuka with a hot lap and he’s a top guy who really enjoyed his first Formula 1 experience.
Formula 1 Academy Preview
Alpine Academy driver Abbi Pulling (Rodin Carlin) is set to line up on the grid this weekend at Circuit of the Americas for the season finale of the F1 Academy series.
Following a 12 week break since the Formula 1 Academy’s penultimate round at Circuit Paul Ricard in July, Abbi will return to the race track for the final round in Texas.
With two pole positions and six podiums to her name so far this season, Abbi will be looking to maximise every opportunity for points to strive for a top three finish in the championship. The first of the series’ rounds to run on the Formula 1 support bill, Round 7 of F1 Academy Series will be covered live across 18 broadcast channels as well as being available to watch via F1’s YouTube, X, Facebook and F1 TV.
Abbi Pulling, Rodin Carlin: “I am really looking forward to Austin. I have great memories there. It is where I got my first pole position in single seaters, and it is a track that I really enjoy so I am looking forward to revisiting COTA. We will be on the F1 support programme so there will be lots of great coverage for the series and I will of course get to be there with BWT Alpine F1 Team and get to see everyone in the team. Getting back out on track has been long anticipated with the break that we have had, but that has meant there has been a lot of time to work on the preparations ahead of the final round. I am feeling really prepared and I feel like I know the track well. We will get out there with the goal to end the season on a high.”
United States Grand Prix Factfile
Drivers/Team Facts and Stats:
• The 2023 United States Grand Prix will mark the 75th Formula 1 race to be held in the US, making it the fourth country to have host 75 World Championship Grands Prix
• Circuit of the Americas is 5.513km in length and features 20 corners making it the track with the joint-second highest number of corners on the 2023 Formula 1 calendar, tied with Baku City Circuit and behind Jeddah Corniche Circuit
• Based on Circuit of the Americas 10 year history on the Formula 1 World Championship calendar there is a 40% chance of a Safety Car feature in the 2023 United States Grand Prix
• Esteban will be making his 129th Grand Prix start in Austin this weekend, surpassing the career total of America’s last F1 champion, Mario Andretti
• In his four previous visits to Circuit of the Americas Pierre has outqualified his teammate, securing his best qualifying position of eighth in 2021
• Esteban secured his best qualifying position of sixth in both 2017 and 2018, finishing the 2017 United States Grand Prix in sixth to record his best finish
• Race day in Austin falls on the anniversary of the Enstone team’s third Constructors’ Championship title success in 2006. Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella were the drivers at the team – then known as Renault – sealed the title at the Brazilian Grand Prix
Further Facts and Stats:
• The 2023 United States Grand Prix is the second of three Grands Prix in the US this year. In 1982 the United States was the first nation to hold three Formula 1 races in a single season. The only other nation to do so was Italy, in the pandemic-affected 2020 season
• Esteban’s seventh-place finish in the Qatar GP was his 50th points finish for the Enstone team under both the Alpine name and its previous incarnation as Renault
• The 2023 United States Grand Prix will be the 200th Grand Prix in the history of the turbo hybrid formula, which was introduced at the start of the 2014 season. Alpine are one of seven constructors to have won a Grand Prix in that time.
• Proving how incredibly matched they are, Pierre and Esteban both have 8 Q3 appearances, 1 podium finish, 1 sprint points finish and 9 GP points finishes this year!