Alpine set for driver discussions after Pierre Gasly’s sweary rant over Suzuka swap

Michelle Foster
Pierre Gasly. Spa, Belgium July 2023.

Pierre Gasly was furious after being ordered to let Esteban Ocon past.

Alpine interim team boss Bruno Famin has been quick to quash suggestions of dissent in the ranks after Pierre Gasly fumed at the team’s late position swap at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Running ninth ahead of his team-mate Esteban Ocon, Gasly was ordered by Alpine to let his compatriot through.

This was in response to Ocon having done the same earlier in the race only Gasly wasn’t able to capitalise on that and chase down Fernando Alonso. As such Alpine ordered that he give the position back to his team-mate.

Alpine downplay suggestions of team-mate tension

He was not impressed, telling the team over the radio that he was not only on fresher tyres than his team-mate but was also faster. Alpine told him that didn’t matter, after all, he wasn’t going to close the five or so seconds to Alonso on the very last lap.

The former AlphaTauri driver wasn’t happy but said he’d discuss the matter behind closed doors with Alpine.

“I’m just very frustrated to need to swap position in the last lap. I don’t fully understand it,” he said. “I don’t really see the need, but we’ll talk internally.”

Ocon had a different take, adamant Alpine didn’t diverge from their usual practice in the late swap.

“I have been with this team for four years now and this rule has always been the same,” he said after the race. “If a driver changes position… and in this case, I gave the position to Pierre and he had to overtake Fernando to keep that position, otherwise you just give that position back to your team-mate.

“That’s how we’ve always done it. If I were on the other side [of the story], of course, I would do the same.”

Interim team boss Famin has been quick to downplay any suggestions that this could lead to a breakdown in the relationship between the former friends turned rivals and now team-mates.

“We don’t have any problem between the drivers,” he insisted. “I think it’s [because] they are all fighting for having their own best results, which is normal and what they are paid for. But they are also paid for having the best team results.

“Of course, with the stress of the race, we may have some declarations [that are] a bit strong, but I have absolutely no doubt about the drivers being on the same line together.

“For having the best team result, we left Pierre in front of Esteban to have the possibility, even if it was small, of trying to catch Fernando. This was not possible [in the end] so to swap back is very normal.” recommends

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Pierre Gasly launched sweary rant in response to Japanese team orders

Gasly, though, was very unhappy with the call.

Alpine: Can we swap back around please?
Gasly: What the f**k? You’re kidding me. My car is faster. I’m on fresher rubber.
Alpine: Please swap around please.
Gasly: Are you serious? You’re really serious? I started in front of him, you let him undercut me and then…
Alpine: I’m not joking. Do it next time around, Turn 16.

Asked whether he was okay with the manner in which his driver voiced his opinion over the radio, Famin replied: “No more than the other guys. They are fighters, just right after the race, they are disappointed, it’s normal.

“We can talk for hours about the way he did it. But I’m just convinced it’s an epiphenomenon [byproduct].”

The team boss is now preparing for the debrief in which he says they’ll look into whether or not the initial communication made the situation clear to Gasly.

“This is the point we need to check to be totally transparent,” he said. “I don’t know when it has been said, and that is the point we need to clarify. Sometimes we have communication problems because the line [radio signal] is not so good.

“Or sometimes the engineer thinks they are clear when they say something, but maybe sometimes the driver doesn’t record it because he is focused on something else.

“We need to check whether the driver received well the information. But anyway, the manoeuvre was done in the interests of the team, and I have absolutely no doubt that both drivers agree with that.

“If we have to do it a bit differently the other way [around] during the coming races, they will do it. They know that, and there is no tension. It is just execution of the race.”

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