18 March 2023
BWT Alpine F1 Team will line-up for tomorrow’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with both cars inside the top ten on the grid as Esteban Ocon qualified seventh and Pierre Gasly tenth in a tightly contested Qualifying at the fast and thrilling Jeddah Corniche Circuit.
Both drivers will inherit one grid position as a result of Charles Leclerc’s grid penalty meaning Esteban will start sixth and Pierre ninth.
Esteban made it his second Q3 appearance of the season in as many races with his lap time in Q3 – a 1min 29.078secs – proving enough for seventh place. Esteban managed Qualifying well, comfortably progressing through Q1 and Q2 in eleventh and seventh place across the first two sessions.
Pierre built up his evening strongly – progressing through Q1 by 0.049secs before advancing to the top ten shootout with a lap time of 1min 29.411secs in Q2, securing his spot by 0.040secs. He improved to a 1min 29.357secs in Q3 to qualify in tenth place.
Both drivers have their eyes firmly set on delivering double points in tomorrow’s 50-lap Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, which begins at 20:00pm local time on Sunday.
Esteban Ocon, P7, 1:29.078: “That was an intense qualifying session and a strong performance all around, so a good job by the entire team. Overall, I’m happy with seventh today. We’re starting in sixth with Charles’ [Leclerc] penalty and it’s all to play for from the third row tomorrow. During Qualifying, the car was the strongest it’s felt all weekend and it’s good to see that we’ve improved day by day, session by session, so credit to the team for that. Tomorrow we’ll aim to have a clean race and bring both cars home in the points. It’s a long race where strategy will be important and we’re all fully focused on a strong result.”
Pierre Gasly, P10, 1:29.357: “I have mixed feelings after today’s Qualifying. While I’m pleased to reach Q3, I still feel we came up a little bit short on our expectations today and there’s some finer details we need to work on to make sure we extract the maximum from our package. It’s great that we have both cars inside the top ten – credit to Esteban on a good job – and it means we’re in a strong position for the race where the aim is to score solid points. Our race pace has been good, we showed that in Bahrain, and in Practice yesterday, and I’m feeling confident that double points are achievable.”
Alan Permane, Sporting Director: “Today’s Qualifying is a significant improvement from the first race of the season and it’s certainly satisfying to have both cars reach Q3 and starting in a competitive place on the grid for tomorrow’s race. Esteban did a great job with a well-executed session, which he built up lap by lap, and delivered when he needed to in an extremely tight field, split by small margins. It was important for Pierre to have a smooth session, especially after Bahrain Qualifying. He’s now put himself in contention for strong points tomorrow and we’re certainly feeling good with how our long run pace has looked so far this season. A decent job today, some small details to fix, and we’re looking forward to seeing what we can achieve tomorrow with both cars.”