Pierre Gasly, Alpine targeting even more progress at F1 Austrian Grand Prix

The beginning of the 2024 Formula 1 season was rather difficult for Alpine.

Their challenger, the A524, came in overweight and the worrisome signs were present as far back as pre-season testing in Bahrain. Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly began the season on the back foot, as Alpine started the year finishing out of the points in the first five races.

But slowly, Alpine made progress. Upgrades to the A524 reduced weight and improved performance, and the team broke through with their first point of the year thanks to Ocon’s tenth-place finish at the Miami Grand Prix. A tenth-place finish from Gasly in Monaco doubled their tally, albeit with some tension on the track and in the paddock after an opening-lap collision between the teammates, and in recent weeks Alpine has delivered back-to-back double-points finishes.

Can they take yet another step forward this weekend in Austria?

The talk from the team indicates they believe they can.

“I flew back from Barcelona feeling really pleased as we have now made it three points-scoring finishes in a row. Although it’s only small points, it’s been three good performances where we’ve managed to improve the overall package even without adding any updates to the car,” said Gasly in the team’s preview of the Austrian Grand Prix. “We must keep pushing on and target a continuation of this form as every point will count by the end of the year in a tight Championship fight.

“Of course, there was a little bit of disappointment not to be eighth place on Sunday but to be fighting a Red Bull on merit right up until the final lap shows our level improvement and that is satisfying.”

Ocon hailed the performance across the entire week from the team.

“It was encouraging for us to have a good performance throughout the whole weekend in Barcelona where we again finished in tenth place and added important points to the Constructors’ Championship,” said Ocon. “The car was relatively competitive right from the start of the weekend and we managed to deliver throughout Qualifying and be in Q3.”

However, both drivers outlined the hurdles that the Austrian Grand Prix offers. Not only is the track on the smaller side — which means that every millisecond counts — but with this being an F1 Sprint weekend, there is no time to waste.

‘The track itself is short so usually the field is close and every hundredth and thousandth of a second counts,” said Ocon. “We have to get our high speed balance right and the aim for us is keep the positive trend going, which means an eye on Q3 again and, of course, valuable points.”

Gasly highlighted both the pitfalls of the layout, as well as the schedule, the teams face this weekend.

“Triple headers are always challenging. After Barcelona we’re straight into Austria and for a busy Sprint weekend. Spielberg is a short lap, the shortest for lap times during the year, with only nine corners. It’s a challenging one with kerbs, hard braking zones and a lot of high-speed corners,” described Gasly. “It’s always a very good event in Austria, a great atmosphere and a place I have enjoyed racing. We must take our learnings from Barcelona – especially high speed performance and balance – and apply them here this weekend.

“As it’s a Sprint we have to be on the pace straight away and put ourselves in a position to compete in both races.”

Alpine’s first steps towards that continuation of form get underway on Friday.

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