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F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 05: Esteban Ocon of France driving the (31) Alpine A523 Renault on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 05, 2023 in Bahrain, Bahrain.

Alpine still puzzled about ‘true pace’ after eventful F1 Bahrain Grand Prix

The Enstone team experienced an eventful Bahrain Grand Prix, mainly through Esteban Ocon accumulating multiple penalties throughout the race

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Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer says that the Enstone team still doesn’t have an idea of how competitive their 2023 Formula 1 car is due to their troubled Bahrain Grand Prix.

F1 Grand Prix of BahrainBAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 05: Esteban Ocon of France driving the (31) Alpine A523 Renault on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 05, 2023 in Bahrain, Bahrain. Otmar Szafnauer, Formula 1.
Ocon suffered a damaged front wing and multiple penalties, capping off a frustrating Bahrain Grand Prix (Image Credit: Eric Alonso/Getty Images)

After a quiet pre-season testing, Alpine’s competitiveness was heavily questioned. However, those questions were not answered during the season opener in Bahrain.

The race weekend would only reveal a marginal bit of the Enstone team’s true pace. Both Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly encountered many issues throughout the weekend.

Ocon managed to produce an impressive qualifying performance. The Frenchman would get into Q3, ending the session in ninth. However, teammate Pierre Gasly would be knocked out in Q1. The 27-year-old had his best lap time deleted, forcing the Frenchman to start the race from last.

Pace potential shown throughout the weekend

Despite starting from last, Gasly managed to excel in the race. The Frenchman managed to secure a ninth place finish. The 27-year-old, especially, impressed during his soft tyre stint, setting the fastest lap of the race.

The opposite would happen for Ocon. His race would be plagued by multiple penalties, forcing the Frenchman out of the points. However, with Gasly’s race and Ocon’s qualifying, lots of potential was shown with the Alpine car.

Otmar Szafnauer reveals that the team still aren’t sure on the ‘true pace’ of their 2023 challenger. The Alpine team principal said, as quoted by Motorsport.com:

“We still don’t know its true pace because of some of the operational things that happened in the race.”

“Esteban had all of his issues that we talked about, Pierre was stuck in 19th for quite some time at the beginning.

“I’m looking at lap times and if you ever watch a race between the guys up front and the guys at the back, [in the same car] you can be two seconds a lap different just because of where you’re racing.

“So, I still don’t know where we are relative just because we’re out of position with one car and the other car had the problems we talked about. I don’t think we’re far off.”

F1 Grand Prix of BahrainBAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 05: Pierre Gasly of France driving the (10) Alpine F1 A523 Renault and Nyck de Vries of Netherlands driving the (21) Scuderia AlphaTauri AT04 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 05, 2023 in Bahrain, Bahrain. Formula 1
Gasly had a superb last stint on the soft compound tyres (Image Credit: Eric Alonso/Getty Images)
Out-developing teams is the aim

After Gasly’s strong soft stint towards the end of the race, it has been reckoned that Alpine has the fifth-quickest car.

Gasly was able to close a 16-second gap to Valtteri Bottas ahead for eighth place. However, the Frenchman ran out of time to overtake the Finn.

It is evident that Aston Martin had overtaken Alpine in the performance charts. The Silverstone team managed to secure a podium through Alonso finishing in third.

Szafnauer believes that Alpine needs a “clean weekend” to be able to properly analyse where the Enstone team are in the performance charts.

The Alpine boss also believes that if Gasly started up higher, then a much higher position could have been achieved. Beating Bottas to eighth would have been a certainty according to the 58-year-old.

However, the Enstone team’s main focus is to constantly develop throughout the season.

“Now we just need to out-develop them so we can close a gap to those guys we want to beat,” Szafnauer explained.

Where do you rank Alpine if the team were to have a clean weekend?

Feature Image Credit: Eric Alonso via Getty Images

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