Esteban Ocon says he was “gutted” to retire from the Singapore Grand Prix with a gearbox issue after climbing his way through to sixth.

The Alpine driver had negotiated a tricky qualifying session expertly to progress to Q3, eventually wounding up with the eighth quickest time in the final segment.

Following a nightmare weekend in Monza last time out, Ocon was striving to return to the points and opportunistically pounced on Fernando Alonso’s failed overtake on Sergio Perez to pass both over successive laps.

Whilst he would have likely lost a position to Max Verstappen in the Red Bull, Ocon’s comfortable status inside the top 10 was curtailed by a terminal gearbox problem.

“I am gutted to end the race this way,” Ocon rued. “We were performing well and showed some good pace today.

“The team were making all the right calls and we were able to have some fun on track with some overtakes throughout the race.

“Unfortunately, we had a gearbox issue, which ended my race. We need to investigate closely to understand what happened and to ensure it does not happen again.

“We deserved more today but we can be proud of our performance all weekend. It’s certainly not the way I wanted to end my birthday, but we have a chance to bounce back next week at my favourite track of the season and we’ll continue to work together as a team to make sure we come away with a strong result in Suzuka.”

Pierre Gasly (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A523. 17.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 16, Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Race Day.

Thankfully for Alpine, Pierre Gasly managed to recover from a challenging qualifying on Saturday to be the first beneficiary of his team-mate’s unfortunate retirement.

“I am very happy to finish sixth today in such a physically tough race like that,” he said. “I felt confident going into the race and I just targeted having a clean one, tried to be aggressive and decisive and we did just that.

“There were some tough battles, but we got the best from it and maximised our result. A return to the points is important for the team and the car felt good with solid pace.

“It’s a pity for Esteban as it could have been sixth and seventh for the team, so it’s important we look into what happened and come back stronger across the board.”

Gasly is targeting an improved qualifying run at this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix to ensure that he has a better platform to work from ahead of the race.

“On my side, I hope to enter qualifying in a much better position to put ourselves in a much better place come Sunday,” he added. “I’m looking forward to Japan next week on a track I love to drive.”

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