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Formula 1 Belgian GP

Gasly: F1 podium a turning point for under-fire Alpine

Pierre Gasly reckons his 2023 Belgian Grand Prix sprint race podium can act as a turning point for the Alpine Formula 1 team amid its recent management sackings.

Pierre Gasly, Alpine F1 Team, 3rd position, celebrates with his team after the Sprint

Since the start of July, Alpine has replaced outspoken CEO Laurent Rossi, who has been moved aside to work on "special projects".

Then, on the Friday of the Spa weekend, it was announced that team principal Otmar Szafnauer - at the helm for 18 months - and sporting director Alan Permane - an Enstone veteran of 34 years - will leave following the race. 

Meanwhile, chief technical director Pat Fry has moved to James Vowles' Williams project.

Ostensibly, Szafnauer's and Permane's departure is due to them sticking to Alpine's established 100-race plan for success rather than promising a much quicker timeline.

Amid the upheaval, Gasly battled from sixth to third in the rain-affected, shortened Saturday sprint. He notably held off the chasing Mercedes W14 of Lewis Hamilton.

That result, Gasly reckoned, could act as a turning point for Alpine. He said: "It's been quite a busy last few weeks for the team.

"I just joined at the start of the year and it's quite a big step when you come inside a new team and need to work with new people.

"I must say, from Laurent to Otmar to Alan, even Pat that I could see at the factory, they work in the best way possible.

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

"I think it was quite unfortunate that this season, at the minute, doesn't work out as well as we expected and we're not making the progress that we will like.

"With all these changes happening, it's quite a lot at the minute. I can only thank all these guys… and just wish them the best for the future."

The top-three result immediately follows a second double retirement of the season for Alpine, with Gasly and Esteban Ocon involved in a first-corner collision in the Hungarian GP.

Gasly added that the boost to internal morale was the main takeaway: "What's most important for me is the impact that it has inside the team. More than the podium itself.

"It's a sprint race. It obviously sounds good and you get a little trophy, but you don't really jump on the box and stand on the podium. So, it's a slightly different feeling. But nonetheless, we take it. I'm really, really pleased for the guys, for the mood inside the garage."

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Gasly added that for his achievement to come at Spa, the site of the FIA F2 crash that killed his friend, Anthoine Hubert, made the turning point all the more impactful.

He said: "It's been a tough season, really unlucky so far and to kind of have these turning points here in Spa with obviously the history and the incidents that happened in the past years for me, it's definitely meaningful. So really, really happy to get it here."

 

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