Pierre Gasly caused an early red flag during first practice for the recent Canadian Grand Prix when he stopped with what he reported to be a driveshaft failure. But it has since transpired that the “freak” fault came with the steering wheel losing its power supply and engaging the clutch.
The 2020 Italian GP victor was also stymied by an Azerbaijan FP1 hydraulics leak that led to an engine fire, while Esteban Ocon missed most of the same session with a gearbox issue.
Alpine sporting director Alan Permane says these glitches must be addressed, but insists the team is remaining calm and has backed his crew to “iron them out”.
He said: “You just have to go back, look at the life of everything. Look at if [a part] has been mistreated in any way – has it had a hard life somehow? Try and understand why that has failed.
“Yes, we have had some reliability problems and we do need to get on top of them. But there isn’t one thing that we’re panicking about. We’ve had some niggles and I’m sure we will iron them out.”
Explaining the cause of Gasly stopping in Montreal, Permane reckoned it was a “complete freak” incident with a part on the car that has been “bulletproof” since 2008.
He said: “We have to take responsibility for it, honestly. The steering wheel problem we had with Pierre’s car is a complete freak.
Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images
“I was talking to the electronic guys. It’s a part we buy, and I think it’s probably on every single steering wheel up and down the pit lane. The design hasn’t changed since 2008 and it’s been bulletproof.
“The power supply failed and we lost the clutch. That’s why you heard Pierre say he thought he’d lost the driveshaft. But what had actually happened, it pushed the clutch in. Those things are tricky.”
New floor next in aggressive Alpine development
Permane added that a new floor is soon to be fitted as Alpine seeks to continue its 2022 trend of bringing updates that correspond well with wind tunnel simulations and add performance out of the box.
He reckoned that the aggressive development curve would mean Alpine is listed on the FIA car presentation submissions document for upgrades at every coming race.
Permane said: “Some stuff is coming. There’ll be stuff at every race. I know what we’ve got coming to Spielberg [next race, Austria].
“We have a new floor in the works. It’s in the cycle. I’m not sure whether it’s out of aero yet and into design or they’re still adding more downforce, but there will be a new floor at some point.
“It’s just continual and I’m very sure every race we’ll be putting something on that [FIA] document.”