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Formula 1 Azerbaijan GP

Alpine’s Baku F1 weekend like nothing I’ve experienced before, says Permane

Formula 1 stalwart Alan Permane says he has never experienced a weekend like that which Alpine endured in Baku.

Alan Permane, Sporting Director, Alpine F1 Team  Press Conference

The French car manufacturer’s sporting director saw first-hand the challenges that Alpine faced as its weekend “snowballed out of control” following a fire on Pierre Gasly’s car on Friday.

At an event where the team had hoped to have a trouble-free run to evaluate a new floor update, it encountered engine swaps, crash repairs, setup changes, pit exit starts, and then a dramatic pitlane near miss for Esteban Ocon at the end of the grand prix. Alpine left the event without scoring any points.

And all of those dramas came on top of the intense new sprint weekend format, with qualifying sessions on Friday and Saturday, the sprint race and the main grand prix.

Asked how this weekend compared to the previous sprint weekends, Permane said: “I can't compare this weekend to any other. Honestly, it's been so frantic and fraught and difficult. It doesn't feel like any other weekend.”

Alpine’s problems started in first free practice when a hydraulic leak for Gasly triggered an engine fire which cut short his running. He then crashed at the start of qualifying.

Team-mate Esteban Ocon had limited running in FP1 due to a gearbox issue, leaving the team facing further headaches in finding the right setup before qualifying.

In the end, after concerns about wearing his plank out, Ocon's car was pulled from parc ferme on Saturday to make setup changes.

Reflecting on it all, Permane said: “You need to start off well prepared, and just have a smooth weekend. We had that with neither car in FP1. And it snowballed out of control from there.”

Permane was full of praise though for the effort that Alpine’s mechanics made to battle through the dramas of the weekend as they now endure the added complication of back-to-back rounds.

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523, parks up and climbs out of his car due to a fire onboard

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523, parks up and climbs out of his car due to a fire onboard

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

“They've worked so hard this weekend,” said Permane. “They’ve had a hell of a job with Pierre's engine change. And that has knock-on effects that you guys [the media] don't see.

“They arrive here on a Wednesday and build the cars, but we also build our spares up: spare gearbox, spare engines and stuff like that.

“When you use all those on Friday, they have got to stay late Friday night, as there's no curfew on Friday night on a sprint weekend, because the cars are in parc ferme. So, they were here until 10 or 11 o'clock, replenishing that spare that they just used, and making sure we've got an engine and gearbox ready to go if we do the next one.

“So, it's a real double whammy for them. They had a really gruelling Friday.”

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He added: “The next thing they have got is a gruelling 14-hour flight to Miami, and some of them will be straight into work Tuesday morning.

“How you recover from it, it's not easy, especially going straight into another race. But we'll make the best of it.

“Some people will have a day off on Tuesday and will no doubt enjoy some sunshine and relax. We'll do what we can for those people that have worked long hours here [in Baku] and have to work Tuesday. We'll [try to] get them away on Wednesday and Thursday.

“That at least gets them a bit of downtime, to have a meal and a pint out or whatever people use for their recuperation.”

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