Race Weekend Central

A Stumble From 9th & a Rumble to 9th for Alpine

It was a rollercoaster of a night for the bright pink Alpine F1 team on Sunday (March 5) at the Bahrain International Circuit.

Esteban Ocon began the race in ninth, but almost immediately drew a penalty due to improperly parking himself on the starting grid.

Then, before he could pit for tires and to serve his penalty, he damaged his front wing and had to get that replaced.

To make things even worse, his team then screwed up by starting to remove the front wing before fully serving the time penalty, which required yet another pit stop for a 10-second penalty.

Finally, while pitting to serve the 10-second penalty, Ocon was caught speeding on pit road and had to serve yet another penalty for that. The French driver would park his French car after 41 of 57 laps.

On the other side of the Alpine garage, Pierre Gasly had to start 20th out of 20 cars after his final qualifying lap was disallowed due to exceeding track limits. Gasly was able to work his way past both drivers from Haas and his former team AlphaTauri, Williams rookie Logan Sargeant and Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu.

Gasly was also able to overcome both McLaren drivers as they struggled with various mechanical issues. When Charles Leclerc‘s power failed on his Ferrari with 18 laps to go, the entire midfield pitted for soft tires under the virtual safety car and Gasly was able to overtake Alexander Albon for ninth on the outlap.

Gasly set the fastest lap in the closing section of the race with his fresh tires, but was unable to keep it when championship rivals Alfa Romeo had Zhou pit very late specifically to target fastest lap. That point thus went unrewarded in what promises to be a very close midfield battle this season between the two teams.

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“Thanks guys,” Gasly said on his team radio on the cool-down lap. “We had a really good strategy, really good pit stops. It was fun, nice racecar. If we started further up the grid, we’d fight for better points, but nice recovery. Got some work to do, but it’s a good start [to the season].”

It was a very stark contrast in fortunes for the two French teammates, who also may or may not have a bit of a rivalry that stems from their karting days. 2023 will be a 23-round boxing match between the two drivers and the first went pretty decisively in Gasly’s favor.

Alpine as a whole left the first race of the season sixth in points with two, slightly below Alfa Romeo in fifth with four.

The next round of the Formula 1 season comes in two weeks time. Lights go out in Jeddah for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on May 19, 2023 at 1 p.m. Coverage by Sky Sports will be broadcasted on ESPN.

About the author


Michael has watched NASCAR for 20 years and regularly covered the sport from 2013-2021, and also formerly covered the SRX series from 2021-2023. He now covers the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and road course events in the NASCAR Cup Series.

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