Alpine looked close to achieving its first double points finish of its season. It seemed, indeed. An excellent Sunday ended in the worst possible way a few hundred meters after the second restart, when Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon ended up in the wall after making contact with each other.
A tiring harakiri to comment on, with Gasly – at that moment fifth in the standings – who in clear difficulty after cutting into the second corner due to heavy braking, returned to the track, sliding towards the outside of the second corner exit.
Teammate Ocon was coming up behind him, and he didn’t understand the dynamics of his teammate’s A523 and tried to slip between the car and the wall. The result was disastrous: Gasly’s car continued sliding to the right, while Ocon didn’t brake.
The two single-seaters came into contact, ending up hitting the wall shortly after and putting an end to every dream of the two Frenchmen. And to think that Gasly had been one of the best on the track up to that moment, with Ocon then able to recover positions after a qualifying below expectations.
At the end of the race it was the turn of team principal Otmar Szafnauer to try to explain what happened a few laps from the end of the Australian race.
“Everyone apologized. So they thought they had a part in it. But, you know, it was just chaos out there. If Pierre hadn’t gone wide into the first corner, which many did, I think he would have been ahead and Esteban at the same time followed Tsunoda to the race line, Pierre didn’t see him and came over to take the race line and they collided.”
Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523, Alex Albon, Williams FW45, Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images
“It’s a shame, because I think we were about to score some good points and after that, I think Pierre deserved fifth place thanks to merit and good pace. When we told him to push, he tried to keep up with Sainz He did it, he wasn’t as fast as Sainz, but not much. And then, at the end, we told him to push to make sure he stayed ahead of Stroll and he did it. So the pace was really good.”
“It’s a shame they came together. As for trying to blame one or the other. I don’t think it’s the right thing to do. I think the right thing to do is learn from that. But there’s so much chaos and you have to make quick decisions”.
“If you look at the scoreboard and the replay, Tsunoda manages to pass, Esteban tries to follow him. You don’t know where Pierre will go and Pierre doesn’t know who’s there and just tries to go on the racing line. It’s not that you look at the mirror, sees someone and says, ‘Oh, I’ll block it.’ Looks the other way, gets in the running line and thinks there’s no one there.”
In all of this Pierre Gasly was one step away from the abyss. We recall that the Frenchman is only 2 points away from a potential race ban after the series of penalties and lost points last season, the last in AlphaTauri.
the fear that he could be penalized for what happened today was high, but the marshals, after more than 5 hours of discussions, decided on “no further action”, therefore not intervening and penalizing the French driver.
The stewards’ decision was taken for the following reasons: “The stewards heard from the number 10 car driver (Pierre Gasly) and the number 31 car driver (Esteban Ocon), a representative of the Alpine team and reviewed the data from the positioning system, video and video evidence from the car cameras, establishing that it was a racing incident on the first lap. Both car drivers recognized and accepted it as such. Under the circumstances, they decided not to take measures”.
This means that Alpine will be able to field Pierre Gasly regularly, in a month’s time, in the next round in Baku, at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.