Gasly admits McLaren’s gains ‘not a good sign’ for Alpine but says rivals’ progress should ‘motivate us’
Alpine driver Pierre Gasly was left with mixed feelings in the immediate aftermath of the Austrian Grand Prix, having returned to the points-paying positions but been taken aback by the progress of rivals McLaren.
After a mixed start to the season, Alpine showed signs of challenging the front-runners via a podium finish with Esteban Ocon in Monaco and a second-row grid slot with Gasly at the following round in Spain.
However, Red Bull, Aston Martin, Mercedes and Ferrari all proved too strong during the Canada and Austria weekends, with the latter also seeing the updated McLaren of Lando Norris – who took fourth – join the party.
At the end of an incident-packed race at the Red Bull Ring, in which a host of drivers – including the two Alpines – were penalised for exceeding track limits, Gasly ultimately classified 10th, with team mate Ocon back in 14th.
“I think there is definitely some positives,” said Gasly, reflecting on his and Alpine’s efforts. “I think we maximised the race and the points that we could score today. On the other side, it feels like we want more and we want to be fighting closer to that top five.
“At the moment, we’re just missing these two or three tenths to Fernando [Alonso] and the Mercedes that finished just ahead of us. We’ve got to keep pushing, keep developing the package we’ve got.
“McLaren was extremely fast this weekend, which is not really a good sign for us, but at the same time it should motivate us. It shows that it’s possible to make big gains. It’s all in our hands and I know we’ve got upgrades planned on the next few races, so [I’m] looking forward to seeing what it brings.”
He added: “We know what the weaknesses of the car are and where we need to improve at the moment, but it’s not that easy to fix. Hopefully some of these upgrades are going to help that.”
Ocon, meanwhile, was left to rue a “frustrating” afternoon at the wheel that also included a five-second time penalty for a near-miss with Williams rookie Logan Sargeant in the pit lane.
“First of all, [we were] lacking pace compared to usual weekends,” he commented. “I think we struggled a lot more with the car on dry conditions this weekend compared to Montreal or other races like Barcelona, where we were easily in the points.
“We got some contact with Yuki [Tsunoda] in the beginning, I don’t think there was damage on the car, but we need to check that exactly. And the unsafe release penalty, which is completely our fault as a team, we got it wrong there, we got five seconds.
“All in all, it made the race quite difficult. We have three days obviously to regroup, understand and come back stronger at Silverstone.”
Alpine sit fifth in the constructors’ standings heading to the British Grand Prix, 107 points behind fourth-placed Ferrari and 18 clear of McLaren.