At the Japanese Grand Prix, Alpine driver Pierre Gasly openly expressed his dissent over the team’s management decision to instruct him to concede a position and a championship point.
Despite earlier claims of camaraderie with his teammate, Esteban Ocon, Gasly found himself at odds with Alpine’s race strategy during a crucial moment in Suzuka.
Gasly, who joined the Alpine team in 2023 after leaving Red Bull’s driver program, had previously stated that his relationship with fellow Frenchman Esteban Ocon had been amicable since the start of the season.
He told Agence France-Presse, “There have been no problems whatsoever since the start of the year.
“We are very professional in our approach because we know that we need to work together to make the team progress and to try to have the best car possible.
“For everyone, the desire is to work hard to eventually fight for victories.”
However, this harmony was put to the test during the closing moments of the Japanese Grand Prix.
Gasly received instructions from the team to pull over on the last corner of the final lap, allowing Ocon to pass him and secure ninth place.
Gasly’s reaction was visceral, as he visibly gestured in apparent frustration from the cockpit.
Describing the incident, Gasly called it a “joke” and explained, “They told me that if they decided to do the undercut with Esteban to help him during his race, we would swap positions.
“On the last lap, I was asked to swap again.
“But I started in front, I had a better qualifying, my tyres were fresher at the end.
“For the rest, we will discuss it internally.”
Despite his disagreement with the team’s decision, Gasly also expressed his inability to comprehend the rationale behind it.
He remarked, “For the team, whether we are ninth and tenth or tenth and ninth is the same thing, and we never discussed this before the race.”
On the other hand, Ocon defended the team order, suggesting it was a strategic decision.
“Towards the end of the race, we looked to capitalise on our tyre advantage and Pierre’s pace by aiming for eighth place,” he explained.
“But in the end, we ran out of laps and pace and made the decision to swap the drivers around.
Making these calls is never easy, but they are always made in the best interest of the team first and foremost.”
Gasly acknowledged that Alpine has more pressing concerns beyond internal disputes.
He recognised that the team is currently trailing the top teams, including McLaren, Mercedes, Ferrari, and Aston Martin.
Gasly emphasised the need to improve performance in order to compete for more substantial points in future races.
“It is certain that we are lacking compared to the top teams,” he said.
“There is McLaren in front of us, Mercedes, Ferrari, Aston. We have to find performance to fight for bigger points.”