Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Practice team notes - Alpine


BWT Alpine F1 Team started preparations for the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season finale in Abu Dhabi with Friday Practice at Yas Marina where Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly and Reserve Driver Jack Doohan all took part across the two sessions.

Jack made his second appearance in the A523 of the season, following his outing in Mexico City in October, as he took over driving duties in Esteban's car for the mandatory rookie driver participation. Jack finished Free Practice 1 in thirteenth place and, less than an hour later, took pole position in FIA Formula 2.

Esteban resumed normal duties in a curtailed Free Practice 2, which was cut short by over 30 minutes due to two red flags, the first caused by Carlos Sainz and the second by Nico Hülkenberg.

Esteban ended the session in fourteenth with 17 laps completed with Pierre in ninth after 15 laps.

In FIA Formula 2, the Alpine Academy completed a 1-2-3 in Qualifying after Jack's pole position, Victor Martins's second place and new recruit Kush Maini in third.

Esteban Ocon: "The last Friday Practice day of the year has not started on the best terms. Unfortunately, I've been quite ill since Wednesday and was not feeling great coming into the paddock today. We had Jack [Doohan] in the car for Free Practice 1 where he tested various different items. He had a good session and then followed that up with pole position in Formula 2 just after so well done to him! Free Practice 2 was disrupted with two red flags and therefore a very limited number of laps. We did the best we could with our programme and I am already looking forward to having more laps in the bag tomorrow to be as ready as possible for the last Qualifying of the year. There is more to come from us."

Pierre Gasly: "We started our Abu Dhabi weekend here at Yas Marina with an interesting day's Practice where running was shortened due to the two red flags in Free Practice 2. Firstly, I'm glad Carlos [Sainz] is OK as it looked like a big impact. From our side, with the running we were able to do, we've had a fairly standard day in the car. I think we're in a good position and now it's important we take the time and do our work overnight to find some improvements ahead of Qualifying. I'm feeling comfortable and we will see what tomorrow brings."

Julian Rouse, Interim Sporting Director: "It's been a busy day here at Yas Marina where we had Reserve Driver Jack Doohan in the car for the second mandatory rookie practice outing of the season. He did a solid job in the session and then had to adapt quickly back into Formula 2 where he took a very good pole position. On that front, it was great to have an Alpine Academy 1-2-3 with Victor [Martins] and Kush [Maini] in the top three. After missing FP1 and then with the two red flags in FP2, it means Esteban is slightly on the backfoot in terms of track time. Despite feeling unwell he did a good job to be on the pace right away in FP2. Pierre had two good sessions and we will work hard overnight to analyse the data and aim to put ourselves in a good place with both cars ahead of Qualifying tomorrow afternoon."


Round 23 of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship - the season finale, commenced with practice on Friday as teams prepared for Sunday's 58-lap Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit.

MoneyGram Haas F1 Team lined up with Kevin Magnussen and Oliver Bearman participating in the opening 60-minute practice session. Bearman, a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, was present to fulfil the team's second mandatory rookie slot - the 18-year-old combining this with his driving commitments in the final round of the Formula 2 Championship this weekend.

With Hulkenberg sitting out FP1 this time around, Bearman followed up his first outing in Mexico last month with another assured performance in Abu Dhabi - the British racer completing the team's run plan utilizing sets of the Pirelli P Zero Yellow medium and Red soft tires. Bearman completed 24 laps with a best lap on the soft rubber of 1:27.569 (P20). Magnussen finished one place ahead in P19 with his fastest lap, a 1:27.462, also delivered on the Red compound after an initial baseline run on the Yellows. Both drivers ran high-fuel laps to close out FP1.

Hulkenberg returned for FP2 - the session hosted under the lights around the Yas Marina Circuit - the 17:00 local start time mirroring that of Sunday's race start time. Track running was thwarted early on however as an off from Scuderia Ferrari's Carlos Sainz a handful of minutes in was followed by a lengthy barrier repair.

Just 25-minutes remained when the track returned to green but an off at the exit of Turn 1 by Hulkenberg brought a second stoppage period - his VF-23 suffering rear-wing damage in contact with the barrier, the German's session over before it had truly begun. Hulkenberg and Magnussen were aiming for soft runs before the incident - neither able to set a lap. Magnussen ran a heavy-fuel load on mediums for the final 15-minutes of green flag conditions, the Dane's earlier 1:26.413 medium tire lap placing him P17.

Oliver Bearman: "I'm really happy to have completed another FP1 and rack up more miles in a Formula 1 car, I'll never complain about that. It was a positive session, I built up step-by-step, the car felt good underneath me and we completed the program - that's what I'm here to do. I think the team are happy, but I couldn't debrief with them as I had to go back to Formula 2 afterwards, so that's what I'm doing this evening."

Kevin Magnussen: "In FP2 we didn't get a lap on the soft tire, so prior to the red flag I was P4, so not too bad. It's hard to tell where we truly stack up until tomorrow, so we'll see. We didn't learn anything on the soft tire since we didn't run it, so we chose to go out for a longer run on the medium compound whereas others went out on a short run on softs, so at least we got more laps than others on the mediums."

Nico Hulkenberg: "It was a mistake on my side - driver error - I just wanted a bit too much, too soon. I lost the car, it wasn't a big impact, but it ended my session, so it's been a very short day in general with only one lap on the board as I didn't drive FP1 either. FP3 is in the daytime with much hotter track temperatures, so it's not really representative and not great in terms of learning for the car, but it will be useful for me to feel comfortable in the car."

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal: "In FP1 we went through our test program and Oliver did a good job like he did in Mexico, it was a very solid, very stable drive. FP2 was a little bit of a disrupted session with two red flags, one caused by us with Nico being a bit too optimistic going into Turn 1 on new soft tires. This meant Kevin couldn't put a lap in on his new softs and therefore we chose to put him on a long run. There's still a lot to do for tomorrow before we can be ready for the race. As usual, over one lap I don't think we're too far off, but on the long runs, we'll struggle."

Check out our Friday gallery from Yas Marina here.

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Published: 24/11/2023
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