Jordan sees little hope for Ocon and Gasly in 2024

(L to R): Pierre Gasly (FRA) Alpine F1 Team and Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team at a team photograph. 25.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 23, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Qualifying Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images
© XPB 

Former F1 team owner Eddie Jordan has expressed his frustration over the lack of progress at Alpine, adding that it meant talented drivers such as Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly were being left with little chance of success on track.

French manufacturer Renault took back ownership of the squad in 2016 and has since rebranded it under its Alpine sports car marque, although they continue to develop and supply power units to the race team.

However their much-vaunted 100-race masterplan has faltered in recent seasons, leaving to a major overhaul of Alpine's senior management team last summer with the exits of Otmar Szafnauer, Alan Permane and ex-CEO Laurent Rossi.

Chief technical officer Pat Fry also departed for a new role at Williams, and in recent weeks former racing director Davide Brivio (more recently head of the Alpine Academy driver development programme) has also joined the exodus.

Jordan is concerned that this erosion in the team's top staff is evidence of much deeper problems at Enstone, after Alpine finished last season down in sixth place in the constructor' standings.

Just weeks away from pre-season testing in Bahrain, advance word is that this year's car is once again "a little bit slow" with the Renault power unit remaining underpowered compared to those from Mercedes and Ferrari.

Speaking to the Formula For Success podcast, Jordan said he felt badly for the team's two “great drivers” who were having to make the best of a bad situation.

“I have a sweet spot for Gasly," said Jordan. "I think he tries really hard and sometimes he’s a little bit unlucky.

Eddie Jordan (IRE) with Aston Martin F1 Team. 27.05.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 7, Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo, Monaco, Qualifying Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

"I’ve had a lot of good experiences with Ocon," he continued, recalling the driver's time at Force India which was founded from a buy-out of Jordan's own team, which subsequently became Racing Point and now races as Aston Martin.

“Nevertheless, do I see them making much improvement this year?" Jordan continued. "Really, truthfully, no.

“I think the engine is not good enough," he explained. "[They are] two great drivers, but you know, they’re stuck in there and they just make the best of it.”

Gasly and Ocon are both out of contract at the end of the 2024 season. Alpine is set to unveil this year's new A524 car to the media and public on February 7.

Pierre Gasly (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A523 and Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A523. 25.08.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Dutch Grand Prix, Zandvoort, Netherlands, Practice Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Bearne / XPB Images

Jordan's comments about the power unit echo those of Szafnauer, Alpine's team principal until last year's Belgian GP, who recently accused F1 of not sticking to a 'gentlemen's agreement' to allow Renault to make up the power unit performance short fall.

"To be competitive at the front of the grid you need to have the chassis and the drivers and everything else be that much better than everyone else to make up for the powertrain deficiency, and that’s impossible," he told F1 analyst Peter Windsor’s YouTube channel in December.

"The issue with the powertrain discrepancy is that it’s frozen [under the regulations]," he said last month. "You can only make changes for reliability’s sake and that doesn’t give you much latitude to improve the power output.

"There was a gentleman’s agreement that said if the powertrain output of all the manufacturers was a percentage different then they would start looking at what to do to bring everybody in line," he added. "But a gentleman’s agreement in Formula 1 is sometimes worth having, and other times not."

After Szafnauer's departure, Bruno Famin took over as interim team principal. Previously in charge of engine development, Famin's hands-on role at Viry-Chatillon has since been filled in part by ex-Ferrari man Eric Meignan.

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