Alpine: Suzuka communication under review after Gasly ourburst

© XPB 

Alpine interim team principal Bruno Famin says the Enstone squad is in the process of reviewing the communication procedures that led to Pierre Gasly's radio outburst at the end of the Japanese Grand Prix.

Gasly qualified ahead of Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon but the latter, who was forced to pit under the Safety Car at the end of the opening lap after picking up a puncture at the start, moved ahead of his teammate at the end of the latter's opening stint on the medium tyre.

As the race entered its final tier, Ocon and Gasly were running P9 and P10 and trying to reel in the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso up ahead.

Alpine reckoned that Gasly's fresher tyres would perhaps give him a better chance in overhauling Alonso, so the team orderedits drivers to swap positions.

However, Gasly was unsuccessful in his attempts to catch the Aston Martin driver and he was asked on the final lap to cede back the position to Ocon, a request that infuriated Gasly as it was never mentioned pre-race as part of the team's tactics or game plan.

Ocon on the other hand said the swap-back move – labeled a "complete joke" by Gasly – was a standard procedure and has been part of Alpine's policy for years.

It was feared that the controversy, plainly rooted in Alpine's communication oversight, would spur tensions between the team's drivers. But Famin insisted there are no lingering issues between Gasly and Ocon.

"We don’t have any problem between the drivers," he stated. "I think it’s [because] they are all fighting for having their own best results, which is normal and what they are paid for. But they are also paid for having the best team results.

"Of course, with the stress of the race, we may have some declarations [that are potentially] a bit strong, but I have absolutely no doubt about the drivers being on the same line together.

"For having the best team result, we left Pierre in front of Esteban to have the possibility – even if it was small – of trying to catch Fernando. This was not possible, so to swap back is very normal."

What appeared as "very normal" in Famin's view was evidently unclear from Gasly's perspective.

"It was never said that we would need to invert again, because I was always in front," a frustrated Galsy contended after the race. "For the team it’s the same - ninth and tenth - but it’s definitely not something I expected, and not really something I understand."

Although in-race radio transcriptions showed no evidence of confusion – only astonishment on Gasly's part – Famin insisted on suggesting that communication had perhaps been muddled somewhere along the line.

But this seemed like a convenient excuse on the part of Famin for the team's failure to properly brief Gasly beforehand on potential events.

"This is the point we need to check to be totally transparent," replied an unconvincing Famin when asked if Gasly had indeed received the right information - which he evidently hadn't.

"I don’t know when it has been said, and that is the point we need to clarify. Sometimes we have communication problems because the line [radio signal] is not so good.

"Or sometimes the engineer thinks they are clear when they say something, but maybe sometimes the driver doesn’t record it because he is focused on something else.

"We need to check whether the driver received well the information. But anyway, the manoeuvre was done in the interests of the team, and I have absolutely no doubt that both drivers agree with that.

"If we have to do it a bit differently the other way [around] during the coming races, they will do it. They know that, and there is no tension. It is just execution of the race."

Famin ultimately downplayed Gasly's discontent, as expressed publicly over the radio, and his angry body language inside the cockpit on his cool down lap, the Alpine boss insisting the Frenchman was no more frustrated "than the other guys".

"They are fighters, just right after the race, they are disappointed, it’s normal," he said. "We can talk for hours about the way he did it. But I’m just convinced it’s an epiphenomenon."

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