Alpine laments ‘severely limited’ Friday practice

The mixed conditions in Melbourne during the first day of practice for the 2023 Australian Grand Prix proved frustrating to many teams, including Alpine and its drivers Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon.

Gasly was eighth at the end of first practice which saw two red flag stoppages, with Ocon only P16. Rain in the afternoon meant that times were something of a lottery, but Ocon improved to sixth with Gasly ending up in tenth.

“Today’s on-track running was severely limited with the red flags in free practice 1 and the rain in free practice 2,” acknowledged Alpine chief technical officer Pat Fry.

“It means our run programme was impacted and the data on car set-up and tyre behaviour on different fuel loads is more limited than usual,” he said.

“That’s the same for all teams,” he added. “Free practice 3 tomorrow afternoon will be a crucial session to fine tune the cars.

“Given today’s interruptions, every lap in practice will certainly be important and we must maximise our time on track and our learning during the session.”

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“It’s fair to say that it was a tricky Friday for everyone today,” agreed Ocon. “After some decent laps on hards, free practice 1 was interrupted by a GPS issue, which impacted the whole grid.

“[It] made running on the soft compound very tricky. We saw heavy traffic and the session was red flagged very quickly.

“The afternoon session saw us completing one good run before rain hit the track, making it impossible to run dry tyres ahead of what looks to be a dry qualifying and race.

“It will be up to us to use the limited learning from today and maximise it ahead of tomorrow and Sunday’s Grand Prix,” he noted.

Of the pair, Gasly appeared to be the more satisfied Alpine driver at the end of Friday’s sessions.

“I’ve been pleased with the running we managed to complete, but it was not a smooth day in terms of being on-track,” he reported. “I felt good in the car, and I think we’re in a decent position ahead of the rest of the weekend.

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“For sure not an easy one with the conditions changing throughout [and] pretty messy with the traffic,” he said, adding that it ” was like a war zone this morning in the last sector trying to get through the traffic!

“We definitely have a lot of work to do ahead of tomorrow and we will need to be decisive in the car set-up,” he added. “It looks like it will be dry tomorrow and Sunday, so we’ll need to maximise tomorrow’s FP3 to be in good shape for qualifying.

“Hopefully we can fine tune in the day. We’ve got to aim for Q3 and try to get close to the top four.”

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