While Pierre Gasly experienced a “nightmare” in the second half of the race due to graining, Esteban Ocon is celebrating an unexpected result
For Pierre Gasly, the first Formula 1 Grand Prix in Las Vegas ended in a frustrating eleventh place. The Frenchman failed to score any points on Saturday evening, despite having the best chance to do so from the second row of the grid. However, his one-stop strategy did not work out and he lost a lot of ground in the end
Gasly had already come into the pits after 17 of 50 laps to collect the hard tires, which he also kept during the safety car phase almost ten laps later. He reports that he was already graining after five or six laps. “It never got any better, and the last 25 laps were very painful.”
At the restart, the Alpine driver was still in third place, but by the end of the race he had gradually dropped down the field. “That’s obviously frustrating because the start was great. I was in the right line behind George [Russell] and Charles [Leclerc] and knew that I had a great opportunity. But on the hard tire it was just a nightmare,” he says.
Why he had such big problems with the hard tires on his car, however, he doesn’t know either. “But if we look at the big picture as a team, then it was a very, very strong weekend,” he emphasizes. Alpine started the race in fourth place and also finished in fourth. “We had good pace throughout the weekend.”
“So as a team we can be very happy. We just need to understand a few things that didn’t go so well,” said Gasly.
Ocon goes from 16 to 4
And while one Alpine driver was happy in qualifying and unhappy in the race, it was exactly the opposite for the other: Esteban Ocon was eliminated in qualifying after a skirmish with Max Verstappen in Q1, but then moved up to fourth place in the race and brought home good points.
“Oh my god! What a crazy sport,” laughed the Frenchman, after qualifying had been “my lowest point of the season”. “I was very, very disappointed,” he says.
– BWT Alpine F1 Team (@AlpineF1Team) November 19, 2023
“It’s now been six races since Singapore in which not much has gone right for us. We’ve had all sorts of incidents and difficult races, but we never lost faith that we were doing a good job as a team and that things would eventually work out,” said Ocon. “But it took a while. But today we finally had a good race.”
He talks about “probably the strongest race of the year”, although Ocon also benefited from the chaos at the start, where he moved up from 16th to seventh place
No problems with the tires
Like his teammate, Ocon only came in once to change tires, but he did not have the same problems with graining and also passed Gasly during the race, despite the team’s instructions to hold positions.
According to him, the key to this was the second practice session because the tires were understood there. As a result, Ocon had no problem avoiding tire degradation on the front axle in the race, as he says
And so he was ultimately able to stay behind the leading group and cross the finish line in fifth place, with another position gifted to him by George Russell’s penalty.
“It felt fantastic,” he said jubilantly. “These races don’t come around that often, but we knew we had good pace. We were even able to overtake a Williams, and we know how long we’ve been stuck behind one in previous races. “