BWT Alpine F1 Team’s Pierre Gasly qualified in fifth place for the Las Vegas Grand Prix - and will start Saturday night’s race in fourth place - after an impressive Qualifying under the lights and sights of the iconic Nevada city. Esteban Ocon was left to rue traffic in Q1, which halted his efforts and left him unable to demonstrate his true potential, on a night where the team showed promising single-lap pace. Esteban will start the race in sixteenth place.
Pierre’s inherited position of fourth for Saturday night’s race comes as a result of Carlos Sainz’s grid penalty, meaning he will occupy his best starting spot of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season.
In Q1, Pierre advanced through in sixth place on his second push lap with a lap time 1min 34.272secs, which included a purple final sector. Esteban showed strong pace – good enough to also reach Q2 – but was left frustrated by Max Verstappen’s block pass move into Turn 1, which, ultimately, compromised his lap and cost him a comfortable spot in Q2.
Pierre brought his lap time down to a 1min 33.494secs in Q2 to reach Q3 in fourth place. After setting a lap on used Softs in the top ten shootout, the Frenchman looked to make in-roads towards the top five on his push lap on new Softs. He improved to a 1min 33.239secs to finish in fifth place. The 50-lap Las Vegas Grand Prix begins tonight at 22:00 local time.
Esteban, P17, 1:34.834secs; Pierre, P6, 1:34.272secs
Pierre, P4, 1:33.494secs
Pierre, P5, 1:33.239secs
Esteban Ocon: “Today’s result is hard to swallow and, again, things have not gone our way. It is never easy exiting in Q1, especially with the pace we were able to demonstrate. Looking at the data, we could’ve comfortably progressed through to Q2, so it is even more frustrating not to be able to capitalise on the performance of our car. I hit traffic on my first lap and on my second lap I lost around seven tenths following an incident at Turn 1 with Max [Verstappen], losing time and momentum. After that, I kept pushing the rest of the lap and almost improved but, unfortunately, we were out. There are positives to take from today and our car is fast here so there is plenty to fight for tomorrow and, as always, we will give it all we have to achieve a good result.”
Pierre Gasly: “I’m very pleased with the team effort today especially as our expectation was much lower than what we have achieved. We proved the predictions wrong and hopefully we can do the same tomorrow where we start fourth because of Carlos’s [Sainz] penalty. The car felt really good, I felt comfortable and that is so important, especially at a street track where you need to feel in sync with everything. I was able to push to the limit and the laps today were probably my best of the season. We will see what we can do tomorrow. We have to stay focused as it’s a new track, conditions will be cool and tricky and we just have to be ready. The target is to score some big points.”
Julian Rouse, Interim Sporting Director: “Today is a positive result for the team with Pierre lining up on the second row for tomorrow’s Grand Prix, but there’s also some frustration about what could have been for Esteban after his final lap in Q1 was heavily compromised by traffic. From looking at the delta times we could see he would have comfortably progressed through to Q2. As a team, we have learned a lot since Monza, especially from an aero point of view, and found some good improvements in that area. In addition, we have also improved our understanding of tyre preparation on single lap performance with that too beginning to pay dividends. Credit to the team at the track and at the factories for this continued hard work in developing the overall package. Tonight’s Grand Prix will be challenging and we will assess all options to maximise the team result.”