04 March 2023
BWT Alpine F1 Team qualified with Esteban Ocon in ninth place and Pierre Gasly in twentieth place as the first Qualifying session of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 Championship took place at the Bahrain International Circuit.
Esteban reached Q3 with a well-managed Qualifying, progressing through Q1 in twelfth and Q2 in ninth place. His lap time of 1min 30.984secs, proved enough for ninth place in the top ten shootout, to put him in strong contention for points for tomorrow’s 57-lap season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
Pierre was unfortunate to exit in Q1 as he continues to get up to speed in the A523. His second push lap in Q1 was deleted for a track limits infringement while sitting in seventeenth place from his first attempt.
Tomorrow’s curtain raiser to the 2023 season begins at 18:00 local time.
Esteban Ocon, P9, 1:30.984: “It felt good to be out there and finally really pushing the car to see what it can do and where we stand. Getting through to Q3 is definitely a good way to start the season. We are happy with the progress we have made since the pre-season test, and this is the best the car has felt on track so far this year. Our competitors in front are quick, and we have plenty of work ahead of us, but we’ve got a car that can get into the points and that will be the goal for the first race of the season.”
Pierre Gasly, P20, 1:32.181: “Clearly, this is not the start to the season we wanted being knocked out in Q1, that said, it means we have everything to gain for tomorrow’s race and I’m definitely feeling positive that we can still come away with points from this weekend. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite feel at one with the car today and that meant we were way below where our true level is. There’s a lot of work ahead of us to continue our understanding of the car and I’m confident we will come back stronger for our next qualifying session. My focus is on tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to the race and giving it my all.”
Alan Permane, Sporting Director: “Overall, we have mixed feelings after today’s first Qualifying of the season with Esteban in ninth and Pierre in twentieth. In general, that’s not where we aim to be, and we certainly have improvements to make to ensure we’re qualifying in much stronger positions at later races. Pierre is certainly disappointed to be out in Q1. We have a lot to review on his side to understand what happened as clearly the car had much more pace than that. Esteban did a very good job and had three smooth sessions, though, looking at the timesheets, ninth place is probably where we deserve to be today. We’re definitely ready for tomorrow’s race as our high fuel running looked good in pre-season testing and in Free Practice 2 yesterday. Pierre can set his sights forward from the back of the grid as this race tends to have plenty of overtaking. For Esteban, he’s well in contention and there’s no reason why we cannot come away from here with good points.”