Gasly ‘surprised’ by Harman exit but vows to push Alpine

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Pierre Gasly acknowledged that he was surprised by the recent news of the departure from Alpine of its technical director Matt Harman, but the Frenchman is determined to push the Enstone squad forward.

After missing its performance target last season when it concluded its campaign sixth in F1’s Constructors’ Championship, Alpine aimed to improve its fortunes in 2024 with the help of A524 contender.

Unfortunately, those hopes were quickly dashed in Bahrain where the French outfit’s car proved to be the slowest on the grid, raising immediate questions about the team's development direction.

The announcement earlier this week of Harman’s resignation - which was accompanied by the exit of Alpine’s chief of aero Dirk de Beer - was the latest episode in a series of management and personnel disruptions that have plagued the team since last summer.

On Monday, Alpine revealed a new three-pronged leadership structure for its engineering department.

Only time will tell if Alpine’s revamped technical organisation will steer the team in the right direction.

But Gasly trusts the competency of those in charge, although he admitted to being surprised by Harman’s departure.

"It's always a surprise because I've been quite close to Matt, coming inside the team, trying to understand a bit the philosophy, understand the changes, we've made on this new car," Gasly said.

"So, obviously, it comes as a bit of a surprise. I obviously knew it slightly before.

"At the end of the day, I'd rather focus on my business. I'm going to drive the car fast and push the team forward and give them clear feedback. And that's where my energy goes into."

At the risk of sounding contradictory, Gasly claims that he’s seeing “a lot of positive change going on inside the team”.

"I trust in Renault, I trust in Luca [de Meo, Renault CEO], I trust in the people in charge to bring the team forward,” he said. "In terms of operations, the processes, in the sort of mentality and self reflection we have.

"In the studies and feedback and reviews of the work we're doing, I just see that we're going more into details and we're trying to really find the last 1% out of everyone, and people are appreciative of that process. And I do see the positive change.

"Obviously, that doesn't mean we go two tenths faster on the race track right now, because the car doesn't provide us the grip we need.

“But then I'm pretty sure what we need to do long term is definitely [find] the direction we have to go in as a team."

Like his teammate, Esteban Ocon is also putting his full faith in Alpine’s top brass, especially team boss Bruno Famin.

I have faith in Bruno, in the choices that he is making," he said.

"I don't have a crystal ball, but Bruno is someone that has a lot of experience winning in different categories. And that's very good and very valuable."

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