Gasly: Alpine “haven’t really made the step that we had hoped for” in F1 2023

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Alpine head into this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix on the back of a short and not very sweet race in Budapest last weekend.

A misjudgement under braking by Zhou Guanyu sent him into Ricciardo who hit Ocon who ultimately made contact with Pierre Gasly. Both Alpines had to retire because of damage.

Things had looked quite good on Friday for the team as they placed P3 and P5 in FP2, but they hit trouble on the mediums in Q2 and could only manage P12 and P15 in qualifying.

During his media session on Thursday, Gasly was asked about the trend of their performance from free practice when qualifying comes around.

“Well, I think throughout the first races of the season there is clearly a trend, and we’ve got a better idea of where we stand in terms of overall performance.

“There might be signs during free practice where we look more competitive, but we obviously know that it’s different fuel loads, different engine modes. You get only a true picture when qualifying comes, and I think overall we seem to be slightly towards the back of the top ten. In recent events [it’s been] fighting to make it inside the top ten.

“But yeah, we follow our process in free practice regardless of what others are doing. There might be other teams hiding a bit more before qualifying, but we trust the process we do with the best preparation we can have for qualifying.

“Even if we look slightly stronger at times and slightly worse, I think that’s the best way to operate and maximise the potential we have in qualifying. We just need more performance basically, simple as that.”

Photo credit: BWT Alpine F1 Team

Gasly also conceded he’s still not satisfied with the balance of the A523 comparing to the start of the season after joining the team from AlphaTauri.

“At the moment, no. There are different areas of improvement. There is the overall downforce, which will bring you load and will make you faster, and then there is obviously improvement of the through-corner balance, which is another topic. The sensitivity through different conditions.

“At the minute we’re chasing all of that to be fair, so it’s not like there is one area which is weaker than the others, but we’re just trying to make the package stronger. We haven’t really made the step that we had hoped for.”

Alpine are bringing a new floor to Spa this weekend. Team boss Otmar Szafnauer confirmed after the Hungarian Grand Prix that it should give them two tenths of a second in regards to performance.

Gasly is not concerned about the fact they’re bringing during a sprint weekend where the forecast looks rather grim.

“We’re quite confident with the upgrades that we’re bringing. We know it’s going to make the package better.

“Obviously, it might be quite tricky to get a complete read on it with the conditions and being a sprint weekend, but I have no doubt it’s going to make the car faster.”

Heading into the Belgian Grand Prix, Alpine find themselves P6 in the Constructors’ Championship, 40 points behind McLaren.