The Race journalist Edd Straw names Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly as the most equal driving duo of the season. Alpine’s teammates have been evenly matched all year and Straw sees a fascinating dynamic between the two Frenchmen. However, the Brit does note that there are signs that Gasly is starting to gain the upper hand. It is still a bit premature to say that he is Alpine’s best driver.
During the triple header of Austin, Mexico, Brazil, Gasly showed some good results. He was sixth in Austin, eleventh in Mexico, and seventh at Interlagos. The Alpine driver proclaimed that those races were among the best weekends of the season. According to Straw, that says everything about Alpine’s current mediocrity. The French racing team is sixth with a total of 108 points. At the start of the season, Alpine hoped to be able to compete with McLaren again, but after the advance of the British racing team, that battle has disappeared from view. Within Alpine’s limitations, Straw points to Gasly as the driver with the most convincing set of performances.
“He and teammate Esteban Ocon have been one of the most evenly matched driving duos of the season, but there are signs that Gasly is starting to gain the upper hand,” the Briton wrote at The Race. “It is still close and it would be premature to label him as Alpine’s best driver, but the pendulum has swung his way in the second half of the season,” says Straw. In the first half of the season, Ocon sometimes had the upper hand. He was faster on average and was still on the podium in Monaco. Since the summer break, Gasly has taken over the lead, scoring forty points compared to Ocon’s eleven points. Gasly believes in particular that this is due to the strong integration within the team.
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“The dynamics within Alpine are fascinating,” says Straw. ‘Gasly and Ocon are rarely far apart and have a varied history. Although they became F1 teammates at the start of the season, they are keen to present a united and cooperative front,” the Briton wrote. ‘As with any driving duo, the battle is fierce and both are determined to assert themselves as the spearhead of the team. Neither has done that yet. Gasly has been working closely with the team and seems to be getting closer to the balance in the car he wants.’ The work with the team seems to have helped the 27-year-old get closer to the car he needs, giving him those good performances in the last few races.
Ocon felt ‘the circumstances were against him’
Over the entire season, there is still little difference between Gasly and Ocon, so the battle for supremacy will continue into next year. “But it is encouraging for Gasly that he has shown himself in the second half of the year,” Straw continued. Ocon felt here and there that the conditions were against him, such as in Brazil, when he crashed in the first free practice with Fernando Alonso. ‘Ocon will of course point to bad luck as a distortion of the image and he is determined and ruthless enough to find ways to fight back. But it is difficult to escape the conclusion that just as Ocon had the upper hand in the first half of the year, Gasly has taken the lead since then,” Straw said.
As already mentioned, Alpine is currently sixth in the constructors’ championship and will most likely finish there. It is impossible that Williams, which is seventh, will score another hundred points within two races. Aston Martin is above Alpine with 261 points, and it is not likely that Alpine will catch up with the British racing stable. All in all, it is not a bad result for the French team, which has been reorganizing since the Belgian Grand Prix. Interim team boss Bruno Famin appointed a new technical director a few weeks ago, so Alpine is slowly starting to take shape organizationally, which seems to be good things with a view to 2024.