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‘Disappointing for everyone’ – Gasly reflects on ‘very difficult time’ for Alpine after early exit in Jeddah

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JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 08: 18th placed qualifier Pierre Gasly of France and Alpine F1 walks

Pierre Gasly was left to rue a lack of track time at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix following his retirement from the race just one lap in, with the Frenchman admitting that Alpine need to “find solutions” following a challenging start to the year.

After both cars finished towards the back of the field at the season-opening event in Bahrain, the team’s fortunes did not look to have improved upon arrival in Jeddah. Both Esteban Ocon and Gasly again failed to make it out of Q1 in Friday’s qualifying and started the race from P17 and P18 respectively.

READ MORE: Gasly says latest Alpine restructuring ‘came as a surprise’ but he and team mate Ocon insist they ‘trust the process’

Saturday’s race was then over very quickly for Gasly, who reported a possible issue with his gearbox on the formation lap before being called back to the pits on the opening lap to retire the car.

Reflecting on the situation after his early exit, Gasly conceded: “It’s definitely not our weekend. We lost the sixth gear on the formation lap, and basically had a gearbox issue on the formation lap which meant we had to retire.

“Found some damage on the car after qualifying yesterday as well, which probably cost us a Q2, so it’s been two difficult days for the team and I’m just feeling for everyone. We’re obviously going through a very difficult time, everyone’s put in a lot of effort, a lot of energy. Unfortunately today we’re losing quite important track time.”

‘Definitely not our weekend’ – Gasly explains his early DNF in Jeddah

Ahead of the upcoming Australian Grand Prix – which takes place from March 22-24 – Gasly is clear on what the squad need to focus on as they await further upgrades during the season.

"We know we’ve got to find more performance, we’ve got to understand more about this new car,” he explained. “We need to find solutions, and for that we need to run and try to gather as much data as possible, so I think it’s quite clear.

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"I can feel very clearly what I’m missing in the car and what I want from the team and we know the improvements we’ve got to make. But for the meantime... we’ve got to be patient until some upgrades are coming on the car, and in the meantime we’ve got to do the best we can with what we have.

“So a disappointing day, but I think it’s disappointing for everyone in the team, and we’ll switch focus straightaway on Melbourne.”

Ocon set for factory visit this week to try and help Alpine find more pace

Ocon, meanwhile, found himself in a tightly-packed midfield battle during the race as he fought with the likes of Kevin Magnussen, Alex Albon and Yuki Tsunoda. However, the Alpine ultimately lacked the pace to make further ground from there and Ocon went on to finish the Grand Prix in P13.

Taking the positives from the evening, Ocon commented afterwards: “I think it’s been a very opportunistic race on our side. I think we maximised the potential and probably more. We were up to P11 at some stage, I think even P10 virtually.

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“With all the chaos that there was, we were trying to get position from that and we did, which was quite good, from the start up to there. But unfortunately not quick enough yet.

“We still need to keep our head down and keep digging to find some more performance on the car. I’m going to be in the factory this week, to try and figure out some things for the coming races.”

In terms of what he and the team will be looking to address in particular ahead of Australia, Ocon stated: “We’ll focus, that’s all we can do.”

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