Esteban Ocon believes that Alpine needs to extract the maximum from their car to keep up with the midfield teams.
Alpine experienced a woeful race at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Qualifying saw Esteban Ocon knocked out of Q1, although returning Fernando Alonso managed to claim 9th on the grid. However, despite Alpine’s Q3 appearance, the French team found itself coming up empty in terms of points at the end of the race. Ocon brought his car to 13th place at the end of the Grand Prix, gaining three positions on his starting position. Meanwhile, a potential points haul for Fernando Alonso turned into a disaster when the Spaniard was forced into retirement after encountering rear brake issues.
“If we started further up the road, I think we were going to be fighting for points for sure,” says Ocon, looking back over his race. “I fought with the Aston Martin of Vettel, and Lance [Stroll] finished in the points, and I think we were fighting with those cars. Clearly what hurt us is the starting position.”
“I think if we were starting, I don’t know, inside the top 10, then, of course, you’re already in the points. But 11th or 12th, there would have been a chance for us to get into the points.”
While the season’s opening round has not delivered the results Alpine was hoping for, Ocon feels that they have the potential to score points, but need to extract the maximum from their A521 in order to do so.
“Clearly it’s that we don’t have any margin,” he remarks. “We need to extract the maximum out of the car to be able to do that.”
“We have clear ways of seeing where we are lacking a little bit of performance or where we have an area to improve. We know where it is. It’s up to us to find that and find more pace for the next event, that gives us a bit more margin.”
Ocon also believes that, while the cars include a lot of carry-over components from last season, various regulation changes may have hindered the team and given rise to their new challenges.
“The new rule has changed a lot of things,” he said. “Everybody says it’s a year that we keep the same rules, it’s a carryover from last year. This is not the reality.”
“In fact, most of the car is new for everybody, I think for us, for sure, because we know what we have on the car.”
“Everybody lost a good amount of grip and downforce and everybody’s trying to get that back on the car. So for sure, at the moment we have those new rules, everybody’s slower [and] we are as well, compared to the car that we had last year.”
“So we know where to find the time and we know where to recover that lap time. But it’s not the part of spotting where it is, [that’s] done. Now we have to do it.”