31 March 2023
BWT Alpine F1 Team began its Australian Grand Prix weekend on Friday under mixed conditions at Melbourne’s Albert Park where running was heavily curtailed across both Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2.
Esteban Ocon was sixth on the timesheets and Pierre Gasly tenth, as both drivers got up to speed on the 5.278km circuit, which features an additional DRS zone for 2023 through the fast-sweeping section between Turns 8 and 9.
However, both sessions were heavily interrupted, meaning on-track action was limited as both drivers completed 66 laps across the day. In Free Practice 1 there was a 10-minute red flag intervention for a GPS system failure, while in the second session, light rain impacted the team’s usual run plan. Both Esteban and Pierre managed a handful of laps on the Medium and Hard compound, respectively, and before one-lap on Intermediates as the rain fell at the midway point.
Free Practice 3, at 12:30pm, will be an important session to dial in the cars ahead of Qualifying at 16:00 local time.
Esteban Ocon: “It’s always nice to be back driving in Melbourne although it’s fair to say that it was a tricky Friday for everyone today. After some decent laps on Hards, Free Practice 1 was interrupted by a GPS issue, which impacted the whole grid and made running on the Soft compound very tricky. We saw heavy traffic and the session was red flagged very quickly. Thereafter, the afternoon session saw us completing one good run before rain hit the track, making it impossible to run dry tyres ahead of what looks to be a dry Qualifying and Race. It will be up to us to use the limited learning from today and maximise it ahead of tomorrow and Sunday’s Grand Prix.”
Pierre Gasly: “It’s been a reasonable Friday for us today and I’ve been pleased with the running we managed to complete. It was not a smooth day in terms of being on-track due to the red flag in the first session and then the rain in the second session, so we definitely have a lot of work to do ahead of tomorrow and we will need to be decisive in the car set-up. I felt good in the car, and I think we’re in a decent position ahead of the rest of the weekend. It looks like it will be dry tomorrow and Sunday, so we’ll need to maximise tomorrow’s Free Practice 3 to be in good shape for Qualifying in the afternoon.”
Pat Fry, Chief Technical Officer: “Today’s on-track running was severely limited with the red flags in Free Practice 1 and the rain in Free Practice 2. It means our run programme was impacted and the data on car set-up and tyre behaviour on different fuel loads is more limited than usual, though, that is the same for all teams. Free Practice 3 tomorrow afternoon will be a crucial session to fine tune the cars. Given today’s interruptions, every lap in Practice will certainly be important and we must maximise our time on track and our learning during the session.”