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Contact with Ocon on Lap 1 at Suzuka was ‘game over’ for Alpine, says Gasly

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BWT Alpine F1 Team - 2024 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix, Sunday.jpg

Alpine's troubled start to the season continued in Japan where again they failed to trouble the scorers – and to make matters worse their two drivers made contact with each other on the opening lap which damaged both cars.

Pierre Gasly came home 16th and Esteban Ocon one place further forward in 15th, their blushes only saved by Logan Sargeant’s off-track moment and subsequent pit stop that dropped the Williams man to last place and ensured Alpine weren't left propping up the field.

But given they had brought their first upgrades to Suzuka and managed to take some weight off the car, it was a chastening result for a team – but Gasly was keen to stress their were some plusses to take from their weekend.

READ MORE: Ricciardo and Albon give their views on first-lap clash at Suzuka as stewards opt against further action

“Starting with the positives got a great start on the first one, managed to move up three positions, second start was amazing again," he said.

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“[I] manged to get past Esteban [Ocon], and go in between Esteban and Yuki [Tsunoda] and unfortunately ended up in the middle, Yuki turning left Esteban turning right and we had contact on the left with Esteban and it took all the left part of the floor off.”

Gasly struggled on with damage from what he called “a racing incident”, but dropped back through the field as faster cars were able to exploit the stricken Alpine and make their way past.

READ MORE: Norris concedes ‘Ferraris on another level’ as Piastri rues ‘not his best’ weekend in Japan

“The team says I was more than 30 points down on downforce, that was pretty much game over. We kept going as you never know there might be another red flag, another thing in the race but I can’t recall when I had such a tough car balance throughout the whole race.

"[I] was just trying to survive out there and trying to benefit from anything that could happen... Unfortunately, it cost us massively today.”

Gasly: Damage from contact with Ocon meant ‘it was game over’ from Lap 1

Ocon also picked up some damage in the incident with his team mate, but his was less severe. He had taken the restart on the hard compound tyres in a bid to try and do something different to his rivals, but ultimately still had to two-stop on his way to the flag.

“It was very tricky, we picked up some damage at the start which obviously didn’t help,” the Frenchman said afterwards. “We then tried something on strategies, to try and be ahead of the other cars every time but we were not able to keep them behind so it was a good test for us this weekend to see where we were exactly.

READ MORE: ‘Relieved’ Tsunoda hails 'insane' RB pit stop as he nets a point on home soil

“I think probably progress for us in terms of qualifying, we did a good one yesterday but in the race we are back to where we were in Bahrain. There are some similarities between here and Bahrain so we need to look into that.”

Alpine remain rooted to the bottom of the constructors’ championship as it stands – and will be hoping for more upgrades imminently, with Gasly confirming the next new parts are unlikely to arrive in time for the next race in China.

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