Otmar Szafnauer not playing the blame game after Alpine’s double DNF in Australia

Michelle Foster
A crane removes the broken Alpine cars of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon. Australia, April 2023.

A crane removes the broken Alpine cars after Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon crashed. Australia, April 2023.

Otmar Szafnauer says there’s no point “trying to blame one or the other” of the Alpine drivers for Sunday’s race at the Australian Grand Prix, rather he sees it as something to “learn from”.

Gasly and his team-mate Ocon were in the thick of it on the second of three restarts at the Albert Park circuit, the new Alpine signing keen on challenging for fourth place while Ocon wanted to improve on his P10.

In the end both crashed out as they made contact when Gasly cut the corner at Turn 2, returned to the track, and collided with Ocon who was trying to slip between his team-mate’s car and the wall.

But with Gasly continuing to slide to the right, Ocon had nowhere to go and both Alpines were out of the race.

However, rather than ignite their rivalry of old and the feud that went along with it, Gasly was quick to apologise to his team-mate who graciously accepted.

“It could have been anyone that I collided with to be honest,” Ocon said, “because there were a lot of cars going off. No hard feelings, he came and apologised.”

Given the chaos that transpired on that restart, all 16 remaining drivers keen to make up – or in Max Verstappen’s case keep – positions in what was a two-lap shoot-out to the chequered flag, Szafnauer says he too won’t be pointing fingers.

“Everyone apologised,” he said as per Motorsport Italia. “But, you know, it was just chaos out there.

“If Pierre hadn’t gone wide into the first corner, which many did, I think he would have been ahead and Esteban at the same time followed Tsunoda, Pierre didn’t see him and came over to take the race line and they collided.

“It’s a shame because I think we were about to score some good points.”

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“It’s a shame they came together,” he continued.

“As for trying to blame one or the other I don’t think it’s the right thing to do. I think the right thing to do is learn from that. There was so much chaos and you have to make quick decisions.

“If you look at the replay, Tsunoda manages to pass, Esteban tries to follow him. You don’t know where Pierre will go and Pierre doesn’t know who is there and just tries to go on the race line.

“It’s not that you look at the mirror, sees someone and says, ‘Oh, I’ll block it.'”

The crash meant the Alpine pairing weren’t able to retake their places based on a countback for the 58th and final lap behind the Safety Car to cross the finish line.

While Ocon lost out on a point for 10th, Gasly lost out on ten as he had been running P5 at the second restart.

“I think Pierre deserved fifth place thanks to merit and good pace,” said his team boss. “When we told him to push, he tried to keep up with Sainz and he did it. He wasn’t as fast as Sainz, but not much.

“And then at the end we told him to push to make sure he stayed ahead of Stroll and he did it. So the pace was really good.”