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Formula 1 Austrian GP

Gasly: Everyone has responsibility to stop blocking in Austria F1 qualifying

Pierre Gasly reckons Formula 1 teams, drivers and engineers all share responsibility to ensure both qualifying sessions for this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix are not blighted by traffic and blocking.

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

The Red Bull Ring lap is the fifth-shortest on the 2023 calendar at 2.68 miles. However, its high-speed nature means that in a dry session it is likely to produce the quickest time.

Max Verstappen claimed pole at the circuit last season in 1m04.984s. The next-fastest was his 1m10.342s run at Zandvoort.

In previous years, this has led to congested out-laps as drivers seek clear air for their flying laps. Meanwhile, drivers have been found guilty of impeding by the stewards in the previous two races.

With the Austrian GP weekend to feature two qualifying sessions by virtue of being the second sprint round to run under the revised format, the topic of blocking is likely to come to the fore.

Alpine driver Gasly, who was penalised for blocking in Spain but then was held up by Carlos Sainz last time out in Canada, said everyone had a role to play in ensuring impeding was kept to a minimum.

He said: “It’s always tricky. In Canada, it really impeded and had a pretty big impact on our overall race weekend. As a driver, you always try to do your best.

“There are some tracks that are very easy to control the traffic, some others which are way more difficult. Montreal is one of these tracks which is tricky, Austria is going to be bad.

“I think on this specific track, everyone as a team - from drivers, engineers, to everyone that can help and support us inside the car to do a better job - will have to be on their top game because it’s a short track. Everybody’s trying to get gaps.”

Pierre Gasly, Alpine F1 Team, in the drivers press conference

Pierre Gasly, Alpine F1 Team, in the drivers press conference

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Gasly added that the impact on having a lap compromised by being blocked, or from the stewards penalising drivers, meant that a congested qualifying session often disrupted entire weekends.

He continued: “You don’t want to impede anyone and affect [others]. Sometimes it does penalise your entire weekend.

“It’s not only just qualifying but from the moment you start 17th from the back of the grid, it just changes the entire philosophy of your race. It’s going to be tricky.

“Hopefully everyone can manage it in the best way they can.”

F1 drivers are due to meet FIA representatives on Thursday evening. Grand Prix Drivers’ Association president George Russell reckoned clarity and consistency of the enforcement of rules would be addressed.

Meanwhile, Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso led driver calls for F1 to consider a short-term format switch for shorter layouts by splitting the 20-car Q1 into groups as per junior series at Monaco.

The two-time world champion added that, in the long-run, the championship should consider a return of one-car, one-lap qualifying shootouts to provide better exposure for teams and sponsors.

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