It was a bittersweet Dutch Grand Prix for Esteban Ocon as he dug deep to recover from his Q1 exit on Saturday to climb through the field and into the points on Sunday. Esteban was close to an even bigger haul of points as he aims to continue his progress in Italy.
What do you take away from what was a positive Sunday for the team in Zandvoort?
For sure double points and a podium is a very good weekend for us so we are happy to have started this second part of the season this way. It was a good recovery drive from Pierre and I to come away with some valuable points and we head into this weekend with an extra spring in our step. There are definitely a few things we need to analyse and understand, as there were some opportunities missed on my side during the race which could have given us even more points. That said, overall, it was a positive weekend for the team and we will keep pushing to improve and move forward as best as we can.
What are your expectations for the coming races?
It’s not a secret that we were not where we wanted to be going into the summer break. As a driver, my focus is purely on driving as best as I can and working hard with the team on developing the car to achieve the best results possible. As we saw in Zandvoort, we are a team that can seize opportunities when they are presented to us and we will keep working to achieve more good results. The goal will always be to have consistently good weekends and maximise the car in the remaining races. Everyone is motivated and keeping their heads down and we are already excited to get back on track this weekend in Monza.
Monza has always been one of the most popular races on the calendar. What makes this place so special?
Monza, the Temple of Speed, is such an iconic and historic track and one of the oldest on the Formula 1 calendar. It’s completely different to Zandvoort as we navigate just 11 corners, seven of which make up the three chicanes that break up this classic high-speed circuit. There are some truly legendary corners here such as Curva Grande, Ascari and Parabolica, and it’s always exhilarating to drive around here. Personally, I really like this track, and driving in Italy in general, having spent a lot of time here in the junior days. The Tifosi make this race extremely special, and you can feel the passion of the fans. The whole team is excited to get our weekend started and we’ll be working hard together for more good results.
Home from home
Pierre Gasly recorded his first Formula 1 podium for Alpine in Zandvoort last weekend after a cool and well measured drive to third place after starting twelfth. Now he heads to Monza, a place of fond memories for the Frenchman, for his semi-home race on his doorstep in Milan.
How does it feel to record your first podium in Alpine colours?
I must say, I am still feeling ecstatic from last Sunday’s race! It was an incredible race, so up and down with the changing weather conditions and one of those races where you have to remain calm at the wheel. On our side, it was fantastic. We made some bold decisions, executed everything very well and came away with a deserved result. On the grid, we all knew there was a chance of rain for a short amount of time, it was just very difficult to judge the intensity of it and therefore we all opted for dry tyres for the race start. Then after a long period of dry weather, the rain returned and again we had to be ready to make the right decisions, which we did. The entire team deserves this result and it was a great feeling for me to see the faces of everyone after the race in celebration and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at Enstone and Viry in the coming weeks. I hope this serves as a confidence booster for all of us and hopefully we can have more results like this.
What did you make of the team’s performance and execution overall during the weekend?
Obviously, the end result is one thing, but, in general, I would say it was a positive weekend for us. It was not an easy Saturday to be out in Q2 by under one tenth of a second from Q3 and there’s more we can do to extract more from the car on single lap pace. We have seen the car performing well in the wet during the season – like in Monaco, Spa and now Zandvoort – and that bodes well for future races in case there are more wet sessions. It was the first weekend of a couple of changes to the trackside team and everything worked pretty well. There’s a positive energy in the garage – made even better by the podium – and we all now look forward to Monza.
Italy is a special place for you, how much are you looking ahead to Monza?
I have spent a lot of my life in Italy and now I live in Milan, so of course, it’s a very special place for me. The Italian Grand Prix is a semi home race for me since I stay at home for the race weekend, so that is very nice! Monza is the place of my first win in Formula 1 in 2020 and I have very fond memories of that. It was a truly special day and one I will remember forever. That was a few years ago now, and the target is to one day repeat that result, but, in the meantime, we will remain realistic on what is possible this weekend. It will be a challenging weekend but we have some confidence and momentum right now. We’ll work hard in our preparation, aim for a solid Friday and tee ourselves up for a strong weekend from there.
Five Alpine Academy drivers will line up on the grid this weekend at Autodromo Nazionale Monza. Jack Doohan (Invicta Virtuosi) and Victor Martins (ART Grand Prix) are set to compete in the penultimate round of FIA Formula 2 while Gabriele Mini (Hitech), Nikola Tsolov (ART) and Sophia Floersch (PHM Racing) will race in the final round of the FIA Formula 3 Championship.
After a weekend marred by wet weather in the Netherlands, Jack will be looking to maximise every opportunity for points in Monza as he continues his climb through the standings from his current place in fourth. Victor will also be aiming to capitalise on the pace of his car and achieve maximum results to propel himself forward in the points ahead of the final round of the Formula 2 season in Abu Dhabi.
In FIA Formula 3, Gabriele will be looking to achieve maximum points over the weekend to move himself up into the top three in the championship and end his rookie season on a positive note. Nikola will be hoping to also end the season on a high and repeat his finish from Circuit Spa-Francorchamps where he collected his maiden championship points.
Sophia targets a continuation of her excellent race craft at a circuit with plenty of opportunity for overtakes, having continuously made-up significant places in the previous races and highlighted by her historic first points in Formula 3 last time out in Belgium.
Jack Doohan, Invicta Virtuosi: “Monza is another iconic circuit to be heading to for the penultimate round of the season. It is always a very special atmosphere to race in and super fun with all the opportunities to pass, it makes for great entertainment in the final rounds of the championship. I really enjoyed racing in Monza last season, and I can’t wait to get back on track there this weekend.”
Victor Martins, ART Grand Prix: “I am excited to be heading to Monza, especially to be able to use this opportunity to bounce back straight after Zandvoort. I think it is always good when you have a weekend that didn’t go as planned to realign and keep your focus forward. Monza is special place for me, it is where I won my Formula 3 title last season, so I am looking forward to having a good clean weekend there. The goal will be to keep fighting for pole position, victories and to get some important points for the championship. There will no doubt be some good battles at a track with such great opportunities for overtakes meaning the chance to get good results across the weekend.”
Gabriele Minì, Hitech: “We are heading into the last round of the season at Monza. It hasn’t been the easiest season with missed opportunities to score points, but it just means we have to work in order to maximise our potential and come back into the points in the last round to fight for the top three in the championship. The main goal is to maximise our potential this weekend, Monza is a special track especially for me as an Italian and we know that it is a tricky circuit to navigate, it is usually quite chaotic. We will head into the weekend, work hard and try to push for the best results.”
Nikola Tsolov, ART Grand Prix: “I am excited for the final round of the Formula 3 season in Monza this weekend, which is another new track for me to get to grips with. I have watched some previous races at the circuit, and I know it will not be easy with traffic management in Qualifying so it will be an interesting Friday trying to learn the circuit. There will be a lot of opportunities for overtakes so hopefully that will make for some good fights in the races. From the work I have done in the simulator I quite like the circuit and I am looking forward to ending the season on a high!”
Sophia Floersch, PHM Racing: “I can’t wait to be back racing again this weekend. The summer break has been amazing to get some rest and realign but knowing that it is race week again for us is perfect and I love Monza, so I am excited to get out on track. I have raced there in different categories previously and the track characteristics really suit my driving style. We will see what we can do as slipstream and getting the strategy right in Qualifying will be key.”
Italian Grand Prix Factfile
Drivers/Team Facts and Stats:
• Autodromo Nazionale Monza is one of just four tracks on the current calendar – alongside Monaco, Belgium and Silverstone - to have featured in the inaugural 1950 Formula World Championship. The Italian Grand Prix has featured on the calendar every season since 1950 – one of just two Grand Prix events to have done so, alongside the British Grand Prix.
• Monza also holds the record for hosting more Formula 1 races than any other track having held a Grand Prix every year since the start of the World Championship with the exception of the 1980 Italian Grand Prix, which was held at Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari (Imola).
• Esteban Ocon will celebrate his 125th Grand Prix start at Monza this weekend, a circuit on which he has twice finished in the top six, and where he started third on the grid in 2017, his first full season as a Formula 1 driver.
• Pierre secured his maiden Grand Prix win at the 2020 Italian Grand Prix – with the victory he became the first Frenchman to win a Formula 1 race since Olivier Panis in 1996. Esteban would become the next France race winner, winning the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix with Alpine.
• Pierre is one of six drivers on the 2023 grid to have previously won the Italian Grand Prix – alongside Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo, Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc and Fernando Alonso.
• Renault-powered cars have 167 starts at Autodromo Nazionale Monza, achieving eight wins, 19 podiums, 11 poles, six fastest laps and 390 points.
Further Facts and Stats:
• Alongside Red Bull and Mercedes, BWT Alpine F1 Team is one of three teams to have both drivers feature on the podium in the 2023 Formula 1 season with Pierre securing third place last time out in Zandvoort and Esteban taking the third step on the podium earlier in the season at Monaco Grand Prix.
• Esteban’s point in the Dutch Grand Prix brought his career total to exactly 400 points in Formula 1.
• Enstone’s F1 race debut came in the 1981 Italian Grand Prix, when Brian Henton piloted the Toleman TG181 chassis to a tenth-place finish at Monza.
• Coincidentally, the Renault manufacturer team took its first Monza victory in the same race, with Alain Prost taking the chequered flag in 1981. It would be followed up a year later by Rene Arnoux making it back-to-back Renault victories at this venue.