The team under its Alpine guise marked its 50th start in Formula 1 with a memorable podium in Monaco, courtesy of Esteban’s third place finish with a calm and composed drive. Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer reflects on the team’s fantastic achievement and looks ahead to this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.
How was the post-race feeling in the team after Esteban’s sensational podium and Pierre’s strong points finish?
It’s always a very special feeling when you achieve a podium in Formula 1. And there is no place more special than Monaco given its history and prestige, so for the team and Esteban to achieve that feat is just fantastic. I’m delighted for Esteban. He’s proven time and time again that he has the capability to deliver in high pressure circumstances and he really deserved this result after an inch perfect performance all weekend. Pierre too drove great all weekend to cement an excellent team result with 21 points scored. Congratulations again to everyone at Enstone and Viry for their hard work and contribution to this achievement. I would like to also extend my congratulations to our Academy Driver Gabriele Mini on his fine weekend where he claimed pole position and the Feature Race win in FIA Formula 3.
What can this type of result and overall team performance do for the team’s morale?
We can all take great satisfaction in this result and it just demonstrates what we are capable of achieving. We’ve brought upgrades to the car in recent weeks, which are working very well, and we should have further validation of those updates in Spain this weekend on a more conventional Grand Prix circuit than the last two events in Miami and Monaco. We are all working very hard to repeat this type of performance but we will also remain realistic. We must keep developing the car, continue to execute clean race weekends and ensure the drivers continue to perform to a high level. Our immediate focus is on preparing for the upcoming Spanish Grand Prix and aiming for another good performance.
Looking ahead to Spain, what are your expectations?
Barcelona is a circuit we all know very well since it’s often been the host for pre-season testing. It’s a well-rounded track, featuring elevation changes and a range of corner speeds throughout. What I would like to see is another solid weekend with a productive Friday programme where we can continue validating the upgrades as well as learning more about how to extract the maximum from our A523. It would be great to back up our performance from Monaco but we know Spain is a completely different challenge. It’s a new race weekend, a new opportunity and we will focus on our job day by day and see what we can achieve on Sunday afternoon.
Estie bestie is back on the podium baby
Esteban Ocon’s sensational third place finish in the Monaco Grand Prix meant he’s completed the Formula 1 set of standing on every step of the rostrum in the sport. Esteban reflects on the magic Monaco Sunday and previews this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.
You’ve had a few days to reflect on the weekend in Monaco, so how does it feel now?
It’s been a very good past few days. To be on the podium at the iconic Monaco Grand Prix is a dream for any driver I would say, so it’s really great to now say that we’ve done that. It’s now starting to really sink in and the whole weekend was testament of the team’s hard work, both at the track and at Enstone and Viry, and belief that a result like this was possible. We will keep our heads down as we know there is a long way to go and we have some ambitious targets that we still want to achieve. And of course, there is not much time to rest and reflect as our focus quickly shifts to the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend.
Can this result spearhead a string of good races for the team after an up and down start to the season?
We hope so. We always believed we had a good car but a few things did not go our way in some of the early races this year. But in Miami and in Monaco we finished with both cars in the points and showed some good pace. We will need to keep working to compete with the teams who are currently higher up in the championship but the last couple of races show that we can put in a good performance and be competitive. The season is still long and there are many races left so maximum points each weekend will be the priority.
Barcelona is a track that all teams and drivers know very well. What are your thoughts on it?
The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is probably the circuit we’ve been to most over the last few years with the race and all the testing we’ve done there. It will be interesting to see the new changes that have been made to the track but, in general Barcelona, has always been a good all-rounder, putting every aspect of the car to the test. It will be important to get the set-up right ahead of Saturday afternoon to deliver and put ourselves once again in a good position for Sunday. I am very much looking forward to the weekend and carrying this good momentum alongside everyone in the team.
Back in Barca
Pierre Gasly made it back-to-back points scoring finishes in Monaco to jump back into the top 10 in the Drivers’ Championship. The Frenchman reflects on the intensity of the Monaco Grand Prix and looks ahead to this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix where he’s determined to make it three points scoring efforts in a row.
How would you assess your performance in Monaco?
I was pretty pleased on the whole with our performance in Monaco, which finished with a very good team result. On my side, I feel like we built up the weekend well, progressing from a productive Friday through to Saturday. I was a bit disappointed not to have extracted everything in Q3 as we could have been higher on the grid and in a stronger position. In the race, while seventh is a great result and deserved, we know it could have been better. We will continue to work together collectively as a team to make sure we can extract the maximum from race weekends and I’m definitely looking forwards to Spain this weekend where we target another strong one.
How important is it to keep stringing these top ten results together?
We’ve now scored back-to-back points and it’s great that we’re competitive at different types of circuits. Having momentum and keeping consistency is very important for our Championship fight so we must keep up the effort across the board. There are still many things for us to work on and we’ll keep learning more about our package as races go by. Right now, I’m keen to add more points to the tally this weekend and I look forward to getting started on Friday.
What are your thoughts on the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya?
Barcelona is an interesting circuit and more conventional compared to the last three events across Baku, Miami and Monaco. It’s been a solid place for pre-season testing and is a good gauge for understanding the car across a range of factors. I think it’s another opportunity to test our new upgrades and see what else we can do to extract the maximum from our car. Let’s see what we can achieve this weekend with a target of scoring strong points.
Five Alpine Academy drivers will join Formula 1 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya this weekend as Jack Doohan (Invicta Virtuosi) and Victor Martins (ART Grand Prix) head into Round 6 of the FIA Formula 2 Championship and Gabriele Minì (Hitech), Nikola Tsolov (ART) and Sophia Floersch (PHM Racing) look to Round 4 of the FIA Formula 3 Championship.
Jack and Victor will head into the weekend hoping to maximise on the opportunity for points having both shown incredible pace over the weekend in Monaco. Jack will look to replicate and even improve on his second-place result from last season’s Formula 2 Feature Race in Barcelona, whilst Victor will be aiming to translate the evident speed of his car into results over the course of the weekend.
Coming off the back of his first maiden win in FIA Formula 3 Gabriele will look to continue his upward trajectory and collect a haul of points having now moved up to second in the championship standings. Nikola and Sophia will also be aiming to continue improving, use their experience from in-season testing at the Spanish track to maximise their results.
Jack Doohan: “I am really looking forward to getting to Barcelona for Round 6 of FIA Formula 2. We had in-season testing there mid-May which was very productive for us as a team and I was able to show the pace and comfort I felt in the car in Monaco, so I am confident this weekend will be enjoyable also. It looks like it is going to be warm weather and it should be sunny which is a positive. I will try and repeat what I did in Barcelona last year, and hopefully get one place better in the Feature Race on Sunday.”
Victor Martins: “We are looking ahead to Barcelona this weekend, which is my second favourite track. I have had a lot of success at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, so I have a lot of confidence from both that and the strong pace that we have shown in Monaco and the previous races. We have a lot of opportunities in Barcelona, so we need to prepare well. We did our official testing there earlier in May, so I know that the car is quick, and I am feeling great so now let’s go and score some points! If we keep the approach, we have had from the last few race weekends we will get there.”
Gabriele Minì: “We are heading to Spain, which is a standard racing track and not a street circuit like Monaco. We will also be going back to the hard compound of tyre, which will mean it will be a completely different approach for the weekend. It won’t be like in Monaco where we had to explore, we will know what we have to do straight from the beginning of the weekend. We know that the lap will most likely need to be done in the first attempt so it is a different mindset to have but we are going to try and keep the rhythm going from the win in Monaco and we will see how it goes.”
Nikola Tsolov: “I am really looking forward to Barcelona this weekend. It is the first race weekend where I already know the track so it is going to be much better and hopefully, we will be able to take another step forward to getting a good position and being in the points. We had two days of testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya where I was running in the top eight in the end and the simulator sessions we have done also went quite well so all of this is a good sign for the weekend ahead.”
Sophia Floersch: “Barcelona is a track which I know quite well. We had two test days there in April so hopefully the gap to the front runners can be a little bit smaller there. In the end, my main goal should be to not have any technical issues and try to really work step by step over the weekend. A better qualifying performance will make the weekend a lot easier for us so that is where our focus is right now. I am excited to be on track for the second week in a row and I am looking forwards to seeing what we can make of it.”
Spanish Grand Prix Factfile
Drivers, team facts and stats: Spain
• The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is 4.657km (2.893 miles) in length
• Barcelona has 14 corners, the equivalent to Hungary, Canada, Melbourne, Brazil and the Netherlands
• Between 2011-2022, there has only been one wet session at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, giving the Spanish Grand Prix only a 1% probability of a wet session
• The Spanish Grand Prix has 66 laps, which is the eighth most of the 2023 season
• Across the race, drivers will make 924 turns over the duration of the Spanish Grand Prix
• This will be the 33rd Spanish Grand Prix hosted at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya since its inaugural race in 1991
• Esteban’s best finish in Spain is fifth in 2017, while Pierre’s is sixth achieved in 2019
Further Facts and Stats:
• Esteban’s podium finish in the Monaco Grand Prix made him the first Frenchman to finish in the top three in Monaco since Olivier Panis won the 1996 race
• Esteban’s podium came in Alpine’s 50th race in Formula 1, and it means that he has now finished in every position on the podium since joining the Enstone team at the beginning of the 2020 season (1st in Hungary 2021, 2nd in Sakhir 2020)
• The 2023 Spanish Grand Prix will make Spain the eighth nation to have hosted 60 rounds of the Formula 1 World Championship
• All but three of the F1 races held in Barcelona have been won from the front row
• Esteban kicked off his title-winning GP3 Series season in 2015 with victory in the opening race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Such was his consistency that year that at one stage he had a remarkable run of nine consecutive second-place finishes
• One of the greatest Enstone team memories occurred at this racetrack in 1994, when Michael Schumacher managed to finish second driving a Benetton that spent more than half the race stuck in fifth gear, including when he had to pull away from his pitstops