'I don't fully understand it' – Gasly left 'frustrated' by Alpine's call to let Ocon through on the final lap in Japan
Pierre Gasly was visibly “frustrated” at Alpine's call to let team mate Esteban Ocon past on the final lap of the Japanese Grand Prix. While the former could not understand the decision, the latter says it has always been the rule at Alpine.
Gasly had been running in ninth towards the end of the race – after earlier being given the green light to pass his team mate – as he looked to put his fresher hard tyres to good use by chasing down the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso for eighth.
However, when it became clear he was unable to do it, he was asked by Alpine to let Ocon through on the final lap. Gasly obliged and allowed his team mate past at the final corner on the final lap but his onboard camera showed him to be visibly frustrated as he waved his hands in the cockpit.
Speaking to the media post-race his frustration was still there to see. Reflecting on the call made by the team, Gasly said: “Just a bit frustrated, because we need to swap positions in the last lap. I don’t fully understand it, I don’t really see the need, but we will talk internally.”
After being told of Gasly’s frustrations, Ocon said: “Well I’ve been with this team [for] four years and the rule has always been the same, that if you swap the position – initially which I did to Pierre, I gave him the position – if you don’t get the car in front, then you always switch back before the end.
“It was the same with Daniel [Ricciardo], it was the same with Fernando. We were doing that if it’s me, if it's him. If it’s the other way around I would do the same. I always prefer to fight on track, more a bit of an old school way.
“But I understand the team’s point of view, which is to try and get some more points ahead. I think today we maximised what was on the table, and we can be proud of ourselves for the good teamwork.”
With Ocon in ninth and Gasly in 10th place it was Alpine’s second double points finish – after Zandvoort – in the last nine races. Gasly went from 12th on the grid to taking the solitary point on offer and he insisted that it was reflective of where Alpine are at the moment.
“I think it was a decent race but that’s where we are at the minute,” said Gasly. “We will try to work hard as a team towards improving the package we have at the moment.”
As for Ocon, he recovered from starting 14th on the grid as well as a collision with Valtteri Bottas and Alex Albon that left him with damage and forced him to pit early. With that in mind he believed ninth place was the maximum the A523 could have achieved in Japan.
“It was a crazy race, in the beginning we obviously were on three wheels, I had a puncture with the contact with Valtteri and Alex,” said Ocon. “[I] picked up some damage from that, even though I tried to be very careful and go slow, and lost the tyre at the end of the lap.
“We still managed to change it and do one stop from there. We managed to get back into the top 10, keep the track position and finish with both cars in the points, which is very solid, and I think we clearly maximised the potential.”