Alpine targeting another step forward at F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Following an admittedly difficult start to the Formula 1 season, Alpine had been showing some progress with their 2024 challenger the past few weeks. Finally, the Miami Grand Prix gave the team something to show for all the hours of hard work in the factory, in the simulator, and on the track.

A point.

Esteban Ocon’s tenth place finish in the Miami Grand Prix saw Alpine get on the board with their first point of the season, and now the entire organization is hoping to build on that bit of momentum heading into the European swing of the schedule.

“The first point of the season in Miami shows that we are making progress after a very difficult start to our campaign,” said Team Principal Bruno Famin in Alpine’s media preview. “In the last two races we have demonstrated a slight rise in competitiveness and ability to race in more encouraging positions on track. Even if part of that is due to some track specifics, we have been able to unlock some performance courtesy of our upgrades. We will not be bringing any significant ones over the next few races, but we keep pushing hard at the factories to improve the car and extract more performance.”

While Ocon delivered that point for the team in Miami, following the race he struck a rather cautioned tone regarding the result. “We don’t want to be jumping around and celebrating too hard. Obviously, it’s only a top ten,” described Ocon to the media, including SB Nation, following the Miami Grand Prix. “But considering where you know we were, a couple of races ago in Bahrain, 19th and 20th. I think, you know, we can take the positive out of this race and, baby steps that we are doing at the moment.”

Ocon sounded much more upbeat in the team’s media preview.

“Looking back at the last race in Miami, it was nice to finally come away with a point and get off the mark for the season,” said Ocon. “I feel we have been slowly getting closer to the points and making progress in recent races, and finally in Miami we demonstrated that with a small reward.

“Everyone at the team has high motivation and have continued to push despite the difficult start to the season. However, we cannot be fully satisfied with fighting for minor points. We still have a long way to go, and our competitors are not standing still. We must use this result for added motivation, to keep our foot down and keep making progress.”

On the other side of the garage, Pierre Gasly described Miami as a “bittersweet” week. While he noted the team’s improvements, he also felt that perhaps Alpine missed out on a chance for a double-points result.

“In the end, Miami, on my side at least, was kind of bittersweet. We did everything right in the race to put ourselves in contention to score points. In the end, with other factors not going our way, it meant we missed out on scoring,” said Gasly.

“That said, the main positive was the fact the team scored with one car for the first of the season. I think that’s really pleasing for the team. It’s a great confidence boost for everyone at Enstone and Viry but serves as an indicator that we are far from where we need to be as a team,” added Gasly. “We have to keep working hard and keep adding performance to the car. We will take the positives when we can and, all in all, the last two events have been a much stronger showing than the first few races.”

All three noted the history of racing at Imola, and the challenges the circuit provides.

“This weekend is our first European race of the season and a return to a conventional track. Imola is synonymous with Formula 1, it’s really a legendary circuit. It’s very fast, tight, challenging and it’s great to still race at these iconic tracks,” described Famin. “It’s back to a normal race weekend without a Sprint, so we will aim to have a constructive Friday and set ourselves up well for the remainder of the weekend when it counts.”

Both drivers noted the technical elements that Imola offers, as well as the fast and flowing sections that allow the drivers to push full out.

“The circuit in Imola is very fast and flowing and also very technical in places, particularly with riding the kerbs and traction. You always try to keep the minimum speed up through the corners and you need to balance being aggressive over the kerbs without unsettling the car,” said Ocon.

“Imola is a fantastic circuit on the calendar and one of those places which goes hand in hand with motorsport and Formula 1. It’s technical in places, high-speed throughout and usually provides good racing, even on a short lap,” added Gasly. “We’re back to a normal race weekend after Sprints at the last two events. We have to be on it right from the beginning of Friday and put ourselves in a competitive position ahead of the all important Qualifying.”

Finally, both Ocon and Gasly paid tribute to last year’s flooding in the region that saw the cancellation of the race, as well as the 30 years since the passing of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna, at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola.

“This year marks the 30th anniversary since the passing of Ayrton Senna and I know every team and driver will be paying their respects this weekend. Ayrton is a legend and icon of our sport and raised the bar in terms of speed and commitment,” said Ocon. “Rewatching some of his pole laps back, he was always right on the limit and hustling the car through the corners. Amazing to watch! We also return to Imola for the first time following the devastating floods last year, which caused so much damage and displaced so many people in the Emilia Romagna region. It will be a week of reflection and it will be great to see the fans again. Hopefully we can put on a great show for them.”

Gasly has already unveiled a special tribute helmet that he will be wearing to honor Senna, and was given the chance to drive Senna’s 1984 Toleman at Silverstone, the car Senna drove during his rookie season:

Gasly called the experience a “privilege,” and a day that he will always remember.

“This weekend will be special for many reasons, not least as we remember the legend Ayrton Senna 30 years on from his tragic death,” said Gasly. “I will be paying tribute to one of my sporting heroes – and inspiration for getting into racing – by wearing a special Senna Helmet during the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. The helmet will be auctioned after the race to raise money for the Ayrton Senna Foundation aimed at supporting children’s education in Brazil.

“A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of driving Senna’s first Formula 1 car, the 1984 Toleman, at Silverstone. That was a truly special day and something I will remember for the rest of my life. It is going to be a Grand Prix weekend filled with many emotions to remember Senna on track in Imola.”

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