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Gasly helps lift Alpine gloom in Spa

Pierre Gasly said it felt extra special to claim a podium finish in Belgium on Saturday as a boost for the beleaguered Alpine team and in memory of close friend Anthoine Hubert who died after crashing at Spa in 2019. 

Gasly came home third in the rain-delayed sprint race, his best finish since moving to Alpine from AlphaTauri this year. 

“I must say it feels amazing and I am extremely happy to finish in the top three, especially here in Spa, which feels like a home race for us without the French Grand Prix,” he said.

“It was very difficult conditions but I’m extremely happy. We pitted at the right time and managed to hold up Lewis (Hamilton) until the end. 

“It feels very special to have done it here in Spa so obviously a thought too for Anthoine (Hubert) and I’m just extremely pleased for the whole team.”

Alpine have struggled in recent races and experienced two successive double failures to finish in Britain and Hungary, before announcing on Friday that they were parting company with team chief Otmar Szafnauer and long-serving sporting director Alan Permane following senior management upheaval. 

It was also announced that chief technical officer Pat Fry was moving to Williams.

It was a departure that followed a series of other high-profile exits in recent years including those of four-time world champion Alain Prost, who left his role as a non-executive director in 2021, and two-time champion driver Fernando Alonso who left last year to join Aston Martin. 

“I must say I gave it everything today,” said Gasly, sensitive to the feelings of the Renault-owned French team, based at Enstone in England. 

“It wasn’t easy as the tyres were degrading but I just gave it all I could and it paid off and I am super-happy for all the guys.”

Alpine’s management reshuffle attracted much critical attention on Friday and Saturday with Prost quoted in French sports daily L’Equipe saying: “I love this team and seeing it in this state today saddens and distresses me.”

Szafnauer and Permane will leave the team after this weekend’s race and were involved in their effort on Saturday when Esteban Ocon finished ninth in the second Alpine car.

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