Ocon: Alpine will be “very dangerous” to F1’s top teams
Alpine had a slow start to the 2021 season and did most of its scoring in a chaotic Hungarian Grand Prix, which yielded Ocon’s maiden F1 win.
After the summer break Alpine suffered from a lack of consistency, but on the good days it managed to score big, notably with Fernando Alonso’ podium in Qatar, and definitely defeated midfield rival AlphaTauri to fifth place in the constructors’ championship.
Last weekend it nearly added another podium berth with Ocon in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Ocon cycled to the front under the red flag by opting to stay out during the preceding safety car, and after a skirmish between title protagonists Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen he was handed pole for the second restart.
He quickly let both drivers through but nearly managed to hang onto third, with only late floor damage preventing him from keeping the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas behind as the Finn drafted past him across the finish line.
Despite his initial disappointment at losing a podium, Ocon says he is happy with how both the car and the team are performing, which he thinks bodes well for 2022 when all teams start with a blank slate.
The Frenchman believes Alpine will be “very dangerous” to its competition if it gets the initial car design right, as the team has shown it can execute on race day.
“It’s a bit difficult to swallow for sure, we had that third place until 50 metres to the end so the competitors inside us, they are not happy, but we are happy because we have extended our lead on AlphaTauri for 5th place in the constructor,” Ocon said.
“We extract a lot from the car and as Fernando would say it is part of the plan. We are pushing as much as we can and today we got a very strong team result, so pretty pleased with that and very happy for everybody.
“I think it was a very solid weekend on our side. Once we have the same pace as the top cars we are going to be very dangerous.”
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Esteban Ocon, Alpine A521, and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, battle for the lead
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
Alpine’s executive director Marcin Budkowski says that the Enstone outfit knows it needs to get its wild inconsistency under control and says it has already been able to apply some lessons in Jeddah.
“Some races this year – Austin comes to mind, Monaco were the two worst looking back, and Mexico – were pretty disappointing and these were races where we really, really poor and in Qatar we were P3,” Budkowski told Motorsport.com.
“Everybody suffers from this kind of unreliability a bit but it’s important to get it under control because whoever masters that and manages to extract the best out of the package every race will just win massively in consistency in points scoring.
“So, lots of lessons we’re taking from that for next year – some lessons from Qatar we already applied them here – but we need a better grip on that for next year for sure.”
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