Alpine drivers smash up cause update delay

Gasly and Ocon crash forces the Alpine Formula 1 team to change priorities for Baku. After the crash of the two Alpine drivers in Melbourne, the French carmaker’s team found itself in a race against time to make sure it could produce new parts before the next round in Baku.

The crash of the two Alpine drivers at the Australian Grand Prix could upset the French manufacturer’s team’s plans to introduce a major update to the A523 in Baku for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.


In the final laps of the Australian Grand Prix, Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly collided at the exit of the first corner at Albert Park and both had to retire due to the damage to both cars.


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Too many parts, not enough time

The crash has obviously cost the Alpine team a lot of money, which has to operate under a cost cap like all other teams, but the accident could also have an impact on the development of the A523 as the Enstone team has a major upgrade planned for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but having to manufacture so many parts in such a short space of time could put a strain on the team’s plans.

“It’s not a problem for the budget cap, even though this accident has cost us a lot of money, but it has changed the priorities,” Alpine’s managing director Otmar Szafnauer told AMUS.


“In the immediate future we need parts for Baku [the next round]. But you don’t rebuild things like a front wing in a fortnight.”

“So we have to see if this will have an impact and if we can complete the development of our package that we want to introduce.”



Sprint race carnage expected

To make matters worse, a Sprint race is scheduled for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend, which means that teams must arrive in Baku with a substantial number of spare parts for their cars in case there are any accidents between the qualifying sessions, Sprint race and main race.

A fair number of teams and high profile F1 drivers have criticised the sprint race format, and not just for the fact that cars often need additional repairs from extra contact between frenetic passing during the sprint, but also the toll taken on the drivers who would normally mentally build up to a single long distance Grand Prix on Sunday.

Max Verstappen is particularly vocal about this issue.



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Verstappen: “Not in the DNA of Formula 1”

F1 is planning qualifying sessions for the sprint races, which would add to the number of events for drivers who are already faced with a very dense calendar. This might even be added to the Baku race.

One might imagine Alpine’s boss Otmar Szafnauer being in full agreement with Verstappen when considering the parts list needed for his teams’ cars.

“Even if you change the format, I don’t find it’s in the DNA of Formula 1 to do these kinds of sprint races,” says Verstappen,

“In F1, it’s about getting the best out of qualifying and then having an amazing Sunday with long race distances,

“That’s the DNA of the sport and I don’t understand or know why we should change that as I think the spectacle is good.”



Alpine: Another update at Imola

Meanwhile, if all goes according to plan for Alpine and the first update is introduced in Baku, a second major update is expected to be introduced to the A523 in Imola at the end of May, while some minor improvements are also planned for Miami.

Alpine hopes to keep up with the pace of development of its main competitors.

“We think we can at least keep up with Ferrari, Mercedes and Aston Martin,” added Szafnauer.

Ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix scheduled for April 28-30, the Alpine team is sixth in the constructors’ championship, one point ahead of Haas.

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