Pierre Gasly is wary of the renewed threat McLaren poses to Alpine in 2023 after its rivals executed a strong weekend performance at the Austrian Grand Prix.
Following a hugely difficult start to the campaign, McLaren introduced a substantial upgrade package at the Red Bull Ring – labelled as the first part of a three-step plan ahead of the summer break.
The heavily revised MCL60 enabled Lando Norris to wound up fourth on the grid and beat both Mercedes and Aston Martin cars in Sunday’s race to come home fifth, which later became fourth when Carlos Sainz was penalised for track limit infringements.
By contrast, Alpine sustained a lowkey weekend, with Gasly dropping a place to 10th once a plethora of post-race penalties were applied and Esteban Ocon, 14th, enduring a nightmare race.
While Gasly admits Alpine should be concerned about McLaren’s resurgence, he contends that it should act as increased motivation for the Anglo-French side to rebound in the upcoming races.
“I think there is definitely some positives,” Gasly said of Alpine’s Austrian GP weekend.
“I think we maximised the race and the points that we could score today. On the other side, it feels like we want more and we want to be fighting closer to that top five.
“At the moment, we’re just missing these two or three-tenths to Fernando [Alonso] and the Mercedes that finished just ahead of us. We’ve got to keep pushing, keep developing the package we’ve got.
“McLaren was extremely fast this weekend, which is not really a good sign for us, but at the same time it should motivate us. It shows that it’s possible to make big gains.
“It’s all in our hands and I know we’ve got upgrades planned on the next few races, so [I’m] looking forward to seeing what it brings.”
“We know what the weaknesses of the car are and where we need to improve at the moment, but it’s not that easy to fix,” he added. “Hopefully some of these upgrades are going to help that.”
Meanwhile, Ocon, who scored two points in Saturday’s Sprint race, was made to rue early contact and a near-miss with Williams’ Logan Sargeant in the pit lane that landed him a five-second time penalty.
The Frenchman would also be hit with 30s worth of penalties by the stewards for repeatedly exceeding track limits.
However, Ocon claims that Alpine lacked the pace compared to previous rounds in Austria and accepts the Enstone squad need to understand the cause of its troubles.
“First of all, [we were] lacking pace compared to usual weekends,” he stated.
“I think we struggled a lot more with the car on dry conditions this weekend compared to Montreal or other races like Barcelona, where we were easily in the points.
“We got some contact with Yuki [Tsunoda] in the beginning, I don’t think there was damage on the car, but we need to check that exactly. And the unsafe release penalty, which is completely our fault as a team, we got it wrong there, we got five seconds.
“All in all, it made the race quite difficult. We have three days obviously to regroup, understand and come back stronger at Silverstone.”
Alpine retained fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship but now only reside 18 points above McLaren ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix.
Oscar Piastri in the sister McLaren car will get his first opportunity to drive with the new parts the Woking side brought to Austria on Friday at Silverstone.