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Alpine duo ‘very much on the backfoot’ after reliability-hampered Friday in Montreal

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Alpine duo Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon caused a red flag each during Friday’s running at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, with the French pairing left to reflect on a day hampered by reliability issues in Montreal.

Gasly was forced to stop out on track early on in Free Practice 1, with what later transpired was an issue with the spare steering wheel of his A523 – Gasly’s lack of running in that session then becoming less costly when first practice was curtailed due to a CCTV issue at the track.

READ MORE: Hamilton leads Mercedes 1-2 during disrupted second Canadian GP practice session

However, Ocon was also forced to park up in FP2 with a water pressure issue, meaning Alpine were limited to just 57 laps of the Montreal track across Friday of the Canadian Grand Prix weekend (where AlphaTauri’s Nyck de Vries and Yuki Tsunoda, for example, enjoyed 96).

“It was a very bizarre day from the start,” Gasly reflected afterwards. “It stopped after three corners, so not ideal that I had a nice walk through the park to get my way back to the paddock – it was very strange! Then we got the car back before the end of FP1, so I thought maybe we would manage to get out, but we could not get on track.

2023 Canadian GP FP1: Gasly's driveshaft problems bring out red flag

“But in the end, on my side, we managed to have a productive day,” he added. “Free Practice 2 was much better and we were able to progress our programme for almost the full one and a half hour session before the rain at the end.

“I had an interesting moment at Turn 4 with the rear sliding but managed to keep it away from the wall. I think we’re in a good place ahead of the rest of the weekend and hopefully tomorrow’s practice can be better to set ourselves up for qualifying.”

READ MORE: Verstappen expects ‘a few surprises’ during qualifying in Canada as he reflects on ‘tricky’ first day for Red Bull

Ocon, too, was forced to look for the positives after running just 17 laps across the day, saying: “A difficult day for us. Obviously not what we wanted, because we didn’t do many laps, like everyone, in FP1, but in FP2 also we struggled, as we did only a run, and unfortunately that’s going to hurt us for tomorrow.

“We start [Saturday] with a bullet in the foot because we are not going to have that inter tyre, that extra one, that others could carry after today. I’m going to have very limited running, probably in FP3, compared to the others.

“We are very much starting on the backfoot. It’s going to be a big push, trying to get up to speed quicker than the others, and hopefully we can do so.”

2023 Canadian GP FP2: Ocon told to stop the car on track to trigger second red flag

Alpine have enjoyed an upward trajectory in recent races – the highlight being Ocon’s P3 at Monaco – leading some to speculate that they have joined the fight for second in the championship along with Aston Martin, Mercedes and Ferrari.

And Ocon admitted he was hoping for the expected rain to come in qualifying, to allow Alpine the chance to spring a surprise and continue their strong run of form.

READ MORE: Hamilton and Russell say Mercedes have 'work to do' despite topping the timesheets during FP2 in Montreal

“Hopefully only bad weather in qualifying!” he joked. “No, that’s obviously very exciting. It’s been a very good couple of races for us, and we’re looking forward to be able to continue.

“We’re ready to take a challenge and see what we can get after tomorrow.”

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