Alpine drivers paint bleak picture with tough start predicted for Bahrain GP

Sam Cooper
Alpine’s 2024 car on track in Bahrain.

Early predictions will not have made for good reading for the Enstone team.

Both Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon have hinted the Alpine car will be well behind schedule at this weekend’s Bahrain GP after early predictions had them as one of the field’s backmarkers.

Alpine finished P4 just two years ago but the mood could hardly be more different ahead of the start of the 2024 season.

After reports emanating from pre-season testing were bleak, both Gasly and Ocon are braced for a poor start to the year this weekend.

Alpine driver pessimistic about season start in Bahrain

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

Even at their launch, Alpine were setting expectations low by stating the entirely new concept would take time but with the first race this weekend, it is clear the team are behind schedule.

Speaking to media including PlanetF1.com, Gasly urged patience but was realistic about how well the team would perform in Bahrain.

“I think we know where we are,” the Frenchman said. “We are pretty much where we expect it to be starting with a new car concept.

“We said at the launch that we will have to be patient. We know there is work, we believe there is potential to unlock from that car package which, unfortunately, we were not able to do from race one.”

Gasly did say he had “trust” in the team but said it was “crucial” they identify the weaknesses in the first few weeks in order to recover later in the year

“I trust in the team and I trust in the guys that we’ve got to come up with the solution that we need to find the competitiveness that we all want,” Gasly continued.

“And I know everyone has worked extremely hard, there is positive change in the team behind the scenes which doesn’t always reflect straightaway on the racetrack but there’s a lot of positive change inside the team.

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“I do believe there’ll be progression. Obviously, we’re not where we want to be in terms of car balance and car performance and it doesn’t feel as as good as we would have liked but what will be crucial in the first few weeks for us is really identify all these weaknesses of the car that we have and find that potential that we will have to unlock.”

“Yes, some targets have been missed in terms of the timeline, but it still doesn’t mean that we can’t achieve them at some point along the season.

“So as a competitive team, no one is happy of having a challenging start. This wasn’t the idea but this is now the situation that we are in and we are facing it together as a team.

Gasly’s team-mate Ocon spoke in similar terms and was also braced for a poor start to what is his eighth F1 season.

“The first race is not necessarily going to be the story of the whole season,” Ocon said. “We are going to get some new parts to the car but it is very possible that we don’t start where we want to be exactly.

“That was always something that we spoke about early in the launch. It’s a new concept where we have a lot to learn. With our car, we start from a fresh page, where we see better prospects for that car and better progression rates.”

Ocon was then asked if predictions of them being last could come true and he responded. “We will see in two days.”

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