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Gasly says Alpine updates for Japanese Grand Prix are ‘first step in the right direction’

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SUZUKA, JAPAN - APRIL 04: Pierre Gasly of France and Alpine F1 attends the Drivers Press Conference

Pierre Gasly believes that Alpine have taken the “first step in the right direction” by bringing planned updates to their car for the Japanese Grand Prix, with the team having endured a difficult start to the season.

After opting for a change in car concept for 2024, Alpine have so far struggled in the first three race weekends of the campaign. Both drivers exited Q1 of qualifying in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, while Gasly again faced this in Australia as team mate Esteban Ocon just made it through to Q2.

READ MORE: ‘We were going to be in the mix for points’ – Ocon rues missed opportunity in Australia after tear-off wrecks his race

The squad have also found themselves towards the rear of the pack on race days. Their highest finish so far has been P13, achieved by Ocon in Jeddah – a race in which Gasly retired almost immediately with a mechanical issue – and Gasly last time out in Australia.

With upgrades arriving on the A524 at Suzuka, Gasly is hopeful that this is a positive step forwards, though has reiterated that he and the team are not expecting any great leaps just yet.

“It was planned already before the season started, so it’s following the development plan that we had already in place,” the Frenchman explained of the update.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: Pierre Gasly of France driving the (10) Alpine F1 A524 Renault on

Gasly ended the Australian Grand Prix in P13, equalling the team's best result so far in 2024

“We don’t expect it to be major – we know it’s not going to bring us where we want to be but it’s a first step in the right direction, so definitely looking forward to see what it brings.”

Asked if he has hopes of reaching Q2 in Saturday’s qualifying, Gasly responded: “I don’t want to give any specific targets. We know it should be a small step of performance on the car, which we obviously need from where we are today.

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

“We need more and will need more, but definitely it’s positive to see that these first upgrades are coming on the car and more shall follow in the next few months.”

While Alpine have faced a tough start to 2024, Gasly is looking forward to racing in Japan again, having competed in the Japanese Super Formula championship on his progression to F1.

SUZUKA, JAPAN - APRIL 04: Pierre Gasly of France and Alpine F1 walks in the Paddock during previews

Gasly is hopeful that Alpine are taking a step in the right direction with their updates in Japan

On what makes visiting the country so special, the 28-year-old reflected: “We get to see already from the moment we get to the airport or train station, even on a Thursday at the race track. This place is very unique.

“You’ve got fans, spectators in the grandstands already on a Thursday, just appreciating the work from the mechanics building the car, putting all the parts together. Their passion is just unbelievable. They’re really showing their support in a very unique way.

DESTINATION GUIDE: What fans can eat, see and do when they visit Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix

“Usually when I come here, I understood straight away when I came from Super Formula, you’ve got to come here with half-empty luggage because you leave that place with hundreds of toys and gifts that you receive from the fans.

“It’s personally a country I love, from their values, their respect, it’s very different to Europe and what you see back home. It’s definitely unique, and the track itself is one of the fastest on the calendar. [It] really makes you feel the power and the downforce of a Formula 1 car, so it’s definitely top of my list.”

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