Alpine Interim Team Principal Bruno Famin says the side must clarify whether the communication given to Pierre Gasly during the Japanese Grand Prix was clear enough.
Gasly had outqualified team-mate Esteban Ocon, but the latter received preferential treatment during the pit stops having had to stop at the end of Lap 1 for a puncture.
This elevated Ocon into position as the lead Alpine on the road. However, Alpine instructed the Frenchman to let his compatriot through to chase down Fernando Alonso for eighth place on fresher tyres.
Unable to catch the Aston Martin by the end, Alpine told Gasly to invert the positions on the final lap. Whilst he obliged, Gasly was heard labelling the decision a “complete joke” on the radio before also claiming he didn’t “understand” why the cars were swapped back when speaking after the race.
But Ocon was at ease with the way events unfolded, underlining that the Enstone squad has dealt with similar situations the exact same during his time with the team.
Despite the tension that emanated from Sunday’s race, Famin, who replaced the outgoing Otmar Szafnauer in July, has dismissed that Alpine is on the brink of encountering any issues between its drivers.
“We don’t have any problem between the drivers,” he stated. “I think it’s [because] they are all fighting for having their own best results, which is normal and what they are paid for. But they are also paid for having the best team results.
“Of course, with the stress of the race, we may have some declarations [that are potentially] a bit strong, but I have absolutely no doubt about the drivers being on the same line together.
“For having the best team result, we left Pierre in front of Esteban to have the possibility – even if it was small – of trying to catch Fernando. This was not possible so to swap back is very normal.”
Pierre Gasly (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A523 on the grid. 24.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 17, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, Japan, Race Day
After Gasly commented that he intended to speak with the team behind closed doors, Famin addressed that he had already discussed the subject with his driver.
Famin also mentioned that communication problems could have made the situation more tense than needed – something which the team must strive to elucidate.
Asked whether Gasly had received clear instructions, Famin replied: “This is the point we need to check to be totally transparent.
“I don’t know when it has been said, and that is the point we need to clarify. Sometimes we have communication problems because the line [radio signal] is not so good. Or sometimes the engineer thinks they are clear when they say something, but maybe sometimes the driver doesn’t record it because he is focused on something else.
“We need to check whether the driver received well the information. But anyway, the manoeuvre was done in the interests of the team, and I have absolutely no doubt that both drivers agree with that.
“If we have to do it a bit differently the other way [around] during the coming races, they will do it. They know that, and there is no tension. It is just execution of the race.”
Famin has downplayed Gasly letting his annoyance slip in public, arguing that the ex-Red Bull racer vented frustration “No more than the other guys” on the grid.
“They are fighters, just right after the race, they are disappointed, it’s normal,” he continued.
“We can talk for hours about the way he did it. But I’m just convinced it’s an epiphenomenon.”
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