It has been a difficult season for Alpine.
But part of the beauty of sports is that success can wash away negative feelings almost overnight.
The Formula 1 team has endured bad luck, ownership changes, management changes, and more this season. After entering the 2023 year with expectations for a finish near the top of the table they have seen Aston Martin push ahead of them, leaving them currently in sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship.
Then on Saturday at the Dutch Grand Prix, it seemed like more bad luck was in store for them. Esteban Ocon failed to advance out of Q1, qualifying in P17, and Pierre Gasly missed out on Q3 by less than a tenth of a second, qualifying in P12. It seemed like luck would not be on their side yet again.
But thanks to changing conditions, some brilliant strategy calls and a masterful drive from Gasly, the team left Zandvoort with their second podium of the season, as Gasly’s third-place finish gave him his first podium in Alpine colors. Now the driver gets to look ahead to the Italian Grand Prix — a race he has won before — in a much different mindset.
“I must say, I am still feeling ecstatic from last Sunday’s race! It was an incredible race, so up and down with the changing weather conditions and one of those races where you have to remain calm at the wheel,” said Gasly in the team’s preview of the Italian Grand Prix. “On our side, it was fantastic. We made some bold decisions, executed everything very well and came away with a deserved result.”
While it was Gasly behind the wheel, the driver makes it clear: The podium at Zandvoort was a team effort.
“On the grid, we all knew there was a chance of rain for a short amount of time, it was just very difficult to judge the intensity of it and therefore we all opted for dry tyres for the race start,” said Gasly.
“Then after a long period of dry weather, the rain returned and again we had to be ready to make the right decisions, which we did,” added the Alpine driver. “The entire team deserves this result and it was a great feeling for me to see the faces of everyone after the race in celebration and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at Enstone and Viry in the coming weeks. I hope this serves as a confidence booster for all of us and hopefully we can have more results like this.”
Gasly views the weekend at Zandvoort as a positive one, despite the challenges presented on a difficult Saturday.
“Obviously, the end result is one thing, but, in general, I would say it was a positive weekend for us,” said Gasly. “It was not an easy Saturday to be out in Q2 by under one tenth of a second from Q3 and there’s more we can do to extract more from the car on single lap pace.”
“We have seen the car performing well in the wet during the season – like in Monaco, Spa and now Zandvoort – and that bodes well for future races in case there are more wet sessions,” he added. “It was the first weekend of a couple of changes to the trackside team and everything worked pretty well. There’s a positive energy in the garage – made even better by the podium – and we all now look forward to Monza.”
As for the Italian Grand Prix, Monza is the site of Gasly’s greatest day in F1, his lone victory. It came back in the 2020 Italian Grand Prix, when he held off Carlos Sainz Jr. — then driving for McLaren — for the victory.
Gasly’s reaction as he crossed the line has become one of F1’s recent iconic moments:
Making the race all the more special for Gasly is the fact that he considers this a home race, as he lives in nearby Milan.
“I have spent a lot of my life in Italy and now I live in Milan, so of course, it’s a very special place for me,” said the Alpine driver. “The Italian Grand Prix is a semi home race for me since I stay at home for the race weekend, so that is very nice! Monza is the place of my first win in Formula 1 in 2020 and I have very fond memories of that. It was a truly special day and one I will remember forever.”
As for whether he can repeat that feat this weekend, Gasly takes a more realistic approach.
“That was a few years ago now, and the target is to one day repeat that result, but, in the meantime, we will remain realistic on what is possible this weekend,” said Gasly. “It will be a challenging weekend but we have some confidence and momentum right now. We’ll work hard in our preparation, aim for a solid Friday and tee ourselves up for a strong weekend from there.”