Alpine crisis: Could this be the end of their current F1 lineup?

Acknowledging the looming possibility that either or both Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly might part ways with the embattled squad by year-end, Alpine has braced itself for such an outcome. The Renault-backed team, despite its official partnership, found itself lagging with the season’s slowest vehicle post-winter tests.

Upgrades, including a new front wing and much-needed weight cuts, were introduced at Suzuka, though Sunday’s race revealed negligible improvement in Ocon and Gasly’s performance.

“We were very aggressive on strategy,” Ocon disclosed to Canal Plus, “and we were in the game with the others at one point. But we weren’t fast enough to keep them behind. It was a good test to see exactly where we are,” he continued. “It’s a track that’s really hard for cars, and I also know how to do Suzuka very well. I have been in the top 5 here, but today it’s not enough for that. We need more performance. I think we made a step forward in qualifying but we are not where we want to be in the race. We still have a lot of work to do.”

Concerning the team’s current predicament, Ocon confessed, “We’ve been worried since the beginning of the year. We need to see the progress that we can make now, but in the race, we took a step back here. Whether we are worried or not, it doesn’t change anything. We have to work hard.”

Gasly, albeit attempting a positive facade, couldn’t hide his concerns. “We have to try to see the positive, even in difficult times like this,” he asserted. “Now we need more improvements to the car. We don’t have the performance we need to fight at the front. We even took a step back in race pace here. But I know the team is capable of it. We just have to keep bringing in pieces and working hard. We are far away and we shouldn’t be this far away.”

Complicating matters, Alpine’s operational challenges have come to light, notably its absence of a third chassis for races, mirroring Williams’ bizarre dilemma for an F1 team. Bruno Famin, the team principal, mentioned that further car updates are slated for Miami, emphasizing ongoing efforts towards “a better process and a better organisation” at the Viry and Enstone facilities.

With 2025 looming, both Ocon and Gasly are seemingly open to alternative opportunities, potentially benefiting reserve driver Jack Doohan. “I think he has been trained and he will be trained this year with quite a long testing program,” Famin noted, indicating the start of Doohan’s extensive preparation. “We are going to start soon because we need a car, we need a chassis to run that program. After that, the driver market is going to be very dynamic,” he acknowledged. “Right now, I can say that we are happy with the drivers we have. But we are prepared for any scenario. Jack needs to test to keep growing – let’s see what his future will be. But it’s a bit early to answer that question.”

GMM

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