In the final lap of the Japanese GP, the Alpine F1 team swapped the positions of ninth-placed Pierre Gasly and tenth-placed Esteban Ocon. The decision seemingly didn't sit right with Gasly; he appeared furious over the radio, and made some gesticulations post-race to express his frustrations.
Gasly had qualified ahead of his teammate Ocon, who was involved in a first-lap incident that forced him to pit immediately. This created an offset in the strategies between the two Frenchmen.
Ocon ran two hard tire stints to the checkered flag, with Gasly also doing a standard two-stopper race.
With both the Alpine teammates running on an offset, Pierre Gasly was bound to have fresher tires in the final laps. Esteban Ocon was asked to let his teammate overtake him to chase down Fernando Alonso, with the assurance that they would swap back positions if Gasly failed to do so.
However, Gasly wasn't given the same instructions as he believed that his teammate had just let him by. Hence, he was in disbelief when he was asked to swap position on the penultimate lap.
Gasly grudgingly agreed to do so on the final corner before taking the checkered flag.
After finishing the race, Pierre Gasly expressed his annoyance openly. He repeatedly hit his halo device and flipped the bird in response to what he felt was a "complete joke" of a swap.
Radio conversations indicate Pierre Gasly unaware of the swap
Here is the radio transcript of the conversations between Pierre Gasly and his race engineer Karel Loos before the swap.
Loos: Okay, mate. So we’ve got Esteban 2.4 behind. Instruction on the pit wall coming. Can we swap back around, please?
Gasly: Mate, what the f**k? You’re kidding me, are you? Why are you saying that? I was faster. I’m on fresher rubber. If you would have not passed me (sic), I would have overtaken him anyway.
Loos: Yeah, we’ll discuss it in the office. Please swap round, please.
Gasly: Are you serious? You’re being serious? I started in front, I was in front the whole race, you let him undercut me, and then…
Loos: Mate, I’m not joking. The instruction comes from the pit wall. Let’s do it next time round, please. Turn 16.
After some radio silence:
Gasly: Confirm that you want to swap?
Loos: Affirm, affirm please.
Gasly: Yeah, thank you. Complete joke.
Pierre Gasly hopes Esteban Ocon "plays fair" in the future
The swap between the two Alpine teammates has left Pierre Gasly vexed, as he believes he would have eventually overtaken Esteban Ocon with fresh tires.
“It was clear that with the strategy they had planned, at some point Esteban would undercut me,” Gasly asserted. “But my race was faster, I would have overtook him anyway on the race track because I had fresher tyres."
He also asked his teammate to "play it fair" in the coming races.
“This was part of the strategy that was done before the race. Until then it was similar, it was just on the last lap. But anyway - it’s something we’ll talk together, I’m sure the next time around Esteban will play it fair.”