Alpine to build in offset after Ocon operational failure

Alpine encountered operational issues during the Bahrain GP when Esteban Ocon pitted

Alpine encountered operational issues during the Bahrain GP when Esteban Ocon pitted

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer has suggested an offset is likely to be applied at future F1 grands prix to avoid the operational failings that unfolded in Bahrain.

A domino effect of penalties unfolded for Esteban Ocon in the season-opening race at the Bahrain International Circuit earlier this month which turned a potential points finish into a disastrous outing that culminated in retirement.

At the start, the French driver was marginally out of his pit box, incurring a five-second penalty that was served at his first stop.

One mechanic, however, started working on the car 0.4s too early, resulting in a subsequent 10-second penalty.

Szafnauer has already made clear such an error should not have happened, with a fix now due to be put in place.

“It (the fault) is sitting in the system somewhere,” remarked Szafnauer.

“We have an audible countdown and the system started the countdown point four seconds early, so we have to look to see why that happened.

“We should just put an offset in it (the system) so it starts to count down a half second late. Half second isn’t going to kill us.”

Alpine unsure as to place in pecking order

Ocon’s problems and eventual retirement were partially appeased by Pierre Gasly’s drive to ninth on his debut with his new team.

That was after Gasly had started the race last on the grid following a nightmare qualifying performance.

The combination of the differing weekends and performances for their drivers means Alpine is still uncertain as to the “true pace” of its A523 and where it sits in the pecking order, particularly with Aston Martin’s resurgence.

“We still don’t know because of some of the operational things that happened in the race,” added Szafnauer.

“I’ll give you an example – Esteban had all of his issues and Pierre was stuck in 19th for quite some time in the beginning.

“So I’m looking at lap times, and if you ever watch a race between the guys up front in the same car, and the guys at the back, you can be two seconds a lap different just because of where you’re racing.

“In the end, I thought we had really good pace on the soft, but it was a new soft, the car is lighter.

“So I still don’t know, with fuel, where we are relative (to the others) just because we’re out of position with one car and the other car had the problems we’ve talked about.

“We’ll find out but I don’t think we’re far off.”

Alpine will have a better opportunity to discover its genuine pace at the fastest street track on the F1 calendar this weekend with the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah.

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