As teams race ahead to compete in this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the BWT Alpine F1’s team principal Otmar Szafnauer reflects on the season-opener in Bahrain and how to steer the squad in the right direction at the fast and enthralling Jeddah Corniche Circuit.
The team scored two points at the Formula One Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix at the start of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season and Pierre Gasly moved up from last to ninth position in his team debut.
Meanwhile, Esteban Ocon had an unfortunate afternoon at Sakhir and had to retire with only 16 of 57 laps remaining.
“We left Bahrain with mixed feelings,” said Szafnauer. “On one side, we were satisfied to come away with points, given Pierre raced from the back of the grid to ninth place and his drive required good decisions, a well-executed strategy and strong race pace; all of which we showed.
“On the other side, we made too many mistakes across the weekend, and we can all do a better job to improve on those. I believe Esteban’s race was a one-off, a culmination of a string of errors, some on his side, some operationally, and his side of the garage will undoubtedly bounce back in Saudi Arabia.
“Right now, we know the A523 has potential. We just have not exploited everything to the maximum yet and there’s work ahead of us to achieve that. I’d like to see a smooth weekend from the team with no operational errors and to have both cars well inside the points. It will be interesting to see the competitive order on a completely different track to what we’ve seen so far, and I firmly believe there’s much more to come from us. The team is determined for a much better race in Jeddah and it’s great to see everyone’s motivation to deliver an improved performance.”
Gasly is fired up for a better performance in Saudi Arabia and is also determined to make it two top 10s from two races in new colours.
“I enjoyed my debut in Alpine colours,” the Frenchman said. “The entire team is so talented and motivated to succeed and I’m excited to see what we can achieve when we execute a smoother race weekend.
“I enjoy racing in Jeddah. It’s one of the best street circuits as it’s so quick with no real slow corners and it’s a great challenge, physically, for us drivers.
“Qualifying is usually very exciting, and I’m determined to do better than I did in Bahrain, and I see this as an opportunity for redemption. I’ve scored solid points in Saudi Arabia in 2021 and 2022, so it would be good to keep that trend going this year.”