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Formula 1 Australian GP

Alpine: Gasly no longer upset, happy with Australian GP pace

Pierre Gasly has got over his late shunt in the Australian Grand Prix that also wiped-out team-mate Esteban Ocon, according to Alpine Formula 1 boss Otmar Szafnauer.

Pierre Gasly, Alpine

The ex-AlphaTauri racer was on course to bag fifth position, but at the third standing start of the race after a red flag initiated by a shunt for Kevin Magnussen, Gasly was forced into avoiding action.

As the pack concertinaed into Turn 1, he locked up and ran over the grass to miss clipping the rear of Fernando Alonso, although the Aston Martin driver was imminently tagged by Carlos Sainz.

Gasly re-joined the track alongside Ocon but kept drifting towards the outside, pinching his team-mate's tyre to send both cars into the wall for a double retirement.

A distraught Gasly only mustered one answer in the immediate post-race print media pen as he watched the race end behind a safety car.

He said: “I'm just so disappointed to say anything for now just looking at these guys finishing the race.”

But team boss Szafnauer says Gasly, who swiftly sought Ocon to apologise, soon made peace with his role in the shunt (for which he escaped a penalty) to instead be buoyed by the front-pack pace.

Szafnauer said: “Pierre said, ‘I wish I hadn't gone off and then when I came back [on track], I couldn't accelerate’.

“So, although he wasn't happy because he was so close to a fifth place, he was more pleased with the fact that he could race genuinely up at that level.

“So, it was almost like this race is behind him and our pace is good.”

Marshals remove the damaged car of Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523, with a truck after the race

Marshals remove the damaged car of Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523, with a truck after the race

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

While the non-score drops Alpine to sixth in the constructors’ table, it has ambitious plans to out-develop all teams to retain fourth while also closing the points deficit over 2022 to Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.

Szafnauer continued: “We have 20 races left. Let's bring the upgrades. If we can have the same pace and race among the top five cars… this year, if you're racing for fourth, you're racing for second. It's that close.

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“[Pierre] wasn't angry. He wasn't upset. He was more positive that the pace was there.”

He continued: “We were on for scoring some good points and a well-deserved fifth place for Pierre on merit and good pace.

“When we told him to push, he tried to keep up with Sainz, he was able to. He wasn't quite as quick as Sainz, but not far off. Then at the end, we told him to push to make sure he stayed ahead of [Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, fourth] and that he could do. The pace was really good here.”

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