BWT Alpine F1 Team returned to the points in the Singapore Grand Prix as Pierre Gasly jumped from twelfth on the grid to sixth at the chequered flag in an entertaining Sunday night race at Marina Bay. Esteban Ocon retired from the race while holding sixth place on lap 43 with a suspected gearbox issue.
In a race dominated by tyre management and careful strategy, both drivers made strong starts to the 62-lap race, Esteban up one place to seventh on the opening lap and Pierre into eleventh.
From there, Esteban set his sights on chasing down Fernando Alonso with Pierre looking to pass the Haas duo of Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg. A Safety Car on lap 20 led to both cars double stacking – changing from Mediums to Hards – executed with slick efficiency from the pit crew. Esteban was able to hold ninth place while Pierre jumped Hulkenberg in the pit-stop.
From there an exciting battle ensued as a handful of cars looked to catch the Red Bulls of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen. Esteban made a superb move on Alonso at Turn 11 and later Perez, making his way up to sixth on the road. Pierre too passed Perez with the two Alpines holding sixth and eighth, respectively.
Unfortunately, Esteban stopped at Turn 2 on lap 43 with a suspected gearbox issue, which the team will investigate.
Pierre held onto sixth place but remained wary of the fast-charging Verstappen on fresher Medium rubber. He relinquished that spot to the Dutchman five laps from the end but was able to regain sixth place after George Russell’s off on the last lap, holding position to the line to claim a well earned eight points.
Esteban started on New Mediums (L20 pit-stop for New Hards). Fastest Lap: 1:39.930
Pierre started on New Mediums (L20 pit-stop for New Hards). Fastest Lap: 1:38.277
Esteban Ocon, started P8, DNF: “I am gutted to end the race this way. 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, started P12, finished P6: “I am very happy to finish sixth today in such a physically tough race like that. 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. On my side, I hope to enter Qualifying in a much better position to put ourselves in a much better place come Sunday. I’m looking forward to Japan next week on a track I love to drive.”
Bruno Famin, Interim Team Principal: “The team leaves the Singapore Grand Prix weekend with eighth points scored, which constitutes an improvement after the last race. Starting from the middle of the grid, it was important for the team to remain calm and make the right calls. I am very happy with the performance from both drivers. Credit to Esteban and Pierre for how they managed the race in an intense tactical battle and tricky tyre management strategy and also to the team for executing the double-stack pit-stop very well. Pierre and Esteban did a good job gaining places during the race, especially Pierre from twelfth to sixth with a well-managed one-stop strategy, including some clean and decisive overtakes from both drivers. Unfortunately, a suspected issue with Esteban’s gearbox prevented both cars finishing in the points. As a team, it has been one more weekend full of learnings, of which we can take forwards for the remainder of the season. On that front, we are positive as we will fly straight to Japan next week aiming to continue to build up on the momentum from this weekend.”