Contrasting emotions for Alpine drivers ahead of 2023 Abu Dhabi GP

Pierre Gasly qualified 10th for the 2023 Abu Dhabi GP, while Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon was 12th

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Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon were in contrasting moods following Saturday’s qualifying session for Sunday’s 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Heading into Yas Marina, Gasly and Ocon are separated by four points in 11th and 12th in the drivers’ championship and could still mathematically pip Aston Martin‘s Lance Stroll for 10th.

For the second race in succession, Gasly was strong in Qualifying, securing his second consecutive Q3 appearance, and finishing 10th despite being investigated for allegedly impeding Oscar Piastri in the session.

By securing 10th on the grid for Sunday’s Abu Dhabi GP, Gasly clinched victory in his season-long qualifying dual with Ocon by a margin of 14-8 in a season where both drivers secured podiums at Monaco and Zandvoort, respectively.

“It was a nice last qualifying [of the year], I am really happy to get into Q3 [for the] second time in a row,” explained Gasly to the media. “We knew on this track it would be extremely tight with everyone, so [Q3] wasn’t guaranteed.  

“We struggled in Q1, in Q2, I managed to put in a very strong lap, and struggled again in Q3 with the tyres.

“So we’ll see if there was anything different, it was a bit up and down and difficult, but all in all, I am very happy to finish with this Saturday.” 

Ocon still not 100 percent

For Ocon, the final qualifying session of 2023 ended in disappointment as the Frenchman failed to make Q3 for the fourth consecutive race after only managing 12th for Sunday’s Abu Dhabi GP.

However, Ocon hasn’t been at full fitness throughout the weekend, struggling with a fever, preventing him from participating in Thursday’s FIA press conferences.

The cause behind Ocon‘s ill health is the unusual timetables of the Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi GPs and the gruelling demands of F1’s 23-race calendar, which will expand to 24 for the 2024 F1 campaign.

“I’m not sure if it comes from [the Vegas timings], but we didn’t see the sun for four days, there’s a lot of things that is pushing on the human body,” explained Ocon to the media.

“Usually it’s when you come home from here, when [illness] happens it’s one more race than last year, or two more races the body is designed for that and not 24 or 23 races. So let’s see if we can escape from that next year.

“It’s obviously not optimal to be in bed for two days before an F1 race, but I think we still did a good job considering all of that, considering not running in FP1 as well.”

Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
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