Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Silverstone, 2021

No ‘number one’ between Alonso and Ocon at Alpine

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In the round-up: Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi says the team has not chosen a ‘number one’ among its two drivers for the 2021 F1 season.

Equal treatment for Alpine drivers

Rossi was asked whether Fernando Alonso or Esteban Ocon will be the team’s ‘number one’ driver:

That doesn’t exist. I don’t think it exists in many teams, to be honest, at least not in ours. The two drivers [need] to be as fast as possible and will clearly challenge each other. That’s like healthy competition and that’s about it. There’s no instruction and no number one driver designated here.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Lance Stroll reckons Aston Martin will be third in the championship this year and Dave agrees:

That looks a fast car. More impressive than the McLaren and with news that Alpine are using a moderately upgraded power unit mainly tweaked for reliability as apposed to the step change they originally planned for new aero regulations in ’21 now pushed to ’22, I’m going to go out on a limb and call third for Aston Martin at the end of the season.

If Ferrari actually have more power and sorted their draggy car out it could be extremely close between McLaren, Aston Martin and Ferrari but I’ll give it to Aston Martin.
Dave (@Davewillisporter)

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  • 71 comments on “No ‘number one’ between Alonso and Ocon at Alpine”

    1. Sure, I don’t believe that for “one” second! ;)

      1. But which second?

      2. Normally i would say Alonso nr.1 but the new team boss Rossi is a boss who made his teams worldchampion and you can’t do that with a nr.1 driver you need 2 drivers for that.
        Will i think Alsonso get the drop on Ocon offcourse Alonso never stop racing and i always found Ocon just above average. while i don’t like Alonso i know he is a very good driver.

      3. Me neither. From all we’ve seen from Alonso we just know he is to arrogant and vain to even get out of bed should he not be nr 1. He wouldnt have even considered a return. When do F1 team switch to todays society when it comes to communications? They are so incredibly old economy. Detached from society almost

        1. How poorly you know Alonso.
          I can understand that some don’t like his personality, but one must be blind to think Alonso is driven by anything else than his pure will to race. He’s proven that over and over again.

          1. Pure will to race.. agreed, but even stronger his pure will to dominate and as always his ego comes first.
            The team will have to accommodate his wishes and always put on new parts on his car first.

            1. I have an idea for a reality show with Alonso, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic all together in tiny apartment. I don’t have a name for it so suggestions are welcome.

            2. Too true. Although they strenuously deny it in reality all teams have a pecking order, and the outward sign of that is the colour of the camera, the no1 driver gets the black (old red) and the no2 the yellow. Alonso has always refused to drive with the yellow camera. I will be most surprised if, despite him being the newcomer to the team, Alonso’s car does not sport the black camera, it is one of his ways of demeaning his team mate.

            3. @malc1110 there is a bit of a flaw with that argument – whilst Alonso used a black T-camera in 2003 and 2004, for 2005 and 2006 he switched to using an orange T-camera whilst Fisichella switched to using a black T-camera.

              If you’re claiming that using a black T-camera was meant to signify which driver had No.1 status within the team, whilst using the fluorescent coloured camera was meant to signify the No.2 driver, then your argument would suggest Fisichella must have been Renault’s designated No.1 driver in 2005 and 2006.

              That argument also doesn’t work with Ferrari in 2010 either – their system was to have one driver with a red T-camera and one with a fluorescent yellow T-camera, and Alonso was the one who used the fluorescent yellow camera in 2010.

      4. He even thinks it doesn’t exist in many team. What a rose-tinted view of F1. Reality of politics will get to him in April and Alonso has everyone with him in Enstone.

      5. There’s actually 2 number 1 between Ocon (31) and Alonso(14).

    2. Fernando is quicker than you Estaban…

      1. haha…Perhaps he will be?

        I dont expect Fernando to “Vandorne” Ocon, but due to the latter’s lack of consistency, I expect the former to be ahead on more than a few occasions.

        Anyway, it doesn’t matter though. Listening to The Race podcast from a couple days ago, doesn’t look like Alpine will amount to much this season. I expect them to pick up a few opportunistic results at best.

      2. @slowmo I was looking back on Alonso’s seasons against team mates and really his record against Massa was staggering, Alonso finishing close to the Red Bull/Vettel, Massa way off. Yes he was favoured but really he justified that favouritism. Massa delivered nothing. The last time Alonso was really beaten competitively by a team mate was 2007 against Hamilton (and then it was basically a draw). In 2015, Button scored more points, but really given the number of DNFs (Alonso 7, Button 5) that McLaren season was too bad to compare anyone. So it will be interesting to see Alonso back competing in a relatively competitive car. I expect him to win the team battle anyhow and fairly comfortably.

        1. Massa came much closer to a WDC with Ferrari than Alonso ever did

          1. @hollidog
            The F2008 was faster than all cars bar McLaren depending on circuits. Ferrari won the WCC that year. Alonso’s drive in 2010 and 2012 is far more impressive than any driver has ever driven since Michael Schumacher’s Benetton and early Ferrari stint by Felipe’s own admission.

            1. @tifoso1989 Those early Ferrari seasons certainly look impressive in retrospect.

            2. Hamilton dragging that 2009 Mclaren to 3 wins was pretty mighty too to be honest in what was arguably the 4th quickest car that year although they nicked third in the WCC, in part due to Ferrari’s second driver for half the year being woeful after Massa was injured.

          2. Agree with tifoso, you can’t say alonso is worse than massa or vettel depending on the results with the same car in DIFFERENT seasons, the 2007 and 2008 ferrari were perfectly able to fight for titles, the 2018 ferrari was too, the 2017 was a bit slow for that, but the 2010, 2012 and if I go back into the past a little, the 1996 ferraris had no business being there, they were only driven by drivers who can make the most of a bad machinery.

            So if anything, what vettel did was really unimpressive in 2018, massa not as bad since he kept hamilton honest in 2008, even though it was a season marred by errors on both sides.

        2. Massa was used as a road block and a battering ram for Alonso in those years. He was given poor strategies with the purpose of slowing down Alonso’s competition, specifically Vettel and Hamilton. The times he was legitimately ahead of Alonso he had to give way, and Massa was not the same driver after Hungary 09.

        3. I was being a little tongue in cheek. I don’t like some of the things Alonso has done in his career but he’s undoubtedly one of the best drivers of the last 20 years.

          1. @slowmo I realized that :O)
            My sentiments too actually.

        4. @david-br Further to that, I have held the opinion and still do, that if there is this notion surrounding FA of some ‘insistence’ on his part on number one treatment on his teams, which to me is debatable and likely has happened in a natural way because he is that good, it is this…FA started in F1 with Minardi, but for all intents and purposes, in earnest with Renault under Briatore. That was in 2003. That was when what the whole F1 grid had to deal with was MS at Ferrari who had his teammate under contract not to compete.

          How do you defeat the elephant in the room that is a dominant team that is guaranteeing, literally by contract, that the vast majority of the the points go to the one driver on the team? Well you certainly don’t do it by having your two drivers splitting points all the while MS runs away from the field. The all-for-MS format at Ferrari forced the other teams to decide very early on in the season(s) as to who their go-to guy would be, and FA was a no-brainer for that role. Did it look like he was insisting on this position? I’m sure, for those who choose to see it that way. But realistically? What else were they as a team to do?

          As well, let’s keep in mind Briatore had MS at Benetton and was using the one-rooster philosophy with him there, and then Mosely and BE collaborated with their faves Ferrari to not just pull MS away from where he was winning, while MS was still under contract there, but to send his side of the garage with him, to start the mega team, create a new chapter post-Senna, and end the Ferrari WCC drought. This burned Briatore to no end. Any wonder Briatore would have been happy to favour FA, especially against MS/Ferrari? But bottom line, at least FA had backed up his position with his performance.

          Yeah, FA is going to handle Ocon just fine, and at his point in F1, he certainly doesn’t need to be favoured to do that. He’ll earn that all on his own. I do think though that with LH at Mercedes, and thankfully no contract for VB to be subservient but subservient he just naturally is, it still holds true that teams can’t dilly dally splitting points between their drivers while LH is running away with the lion’s share at Merc. It would be so much better for the rest of the grid, and of course us, if it were like it was when LH and NR were splitting points while they dominated. Of course, it was really only RBR that had to concern themselves a little bit with that anyway, and certainly Alpine will be too far back for them to need to shade Ocon so FA can have more points. They need to just make this a pu development year and take their lumps this year and all work together and not concern themselves with a formal driver status, while they also concentrate on next year’s car.

          1. Meant to say end the Ferrari WDC drought (that had gone on for 16 years already by the time this mega deal was being constructed).

          2. Some really interesting points @robbie It certainly makes a lot of sense to see Briatore, as FA’s manager, attempting to replicate the Schumacher one-driver arrangement at his hostile rivals, Ferrari. You can imagine Alonso (and Briatiore) imagining he’d be getting the same treatment at McLaren in 2007. I don’t think Alonso’s championships at Renault are under any question of favouritism: he adapted his driving style absolutely originally and brilliantly to make the most of the car+tyre combination (which later stalled him for the first part of the 2007 season while he adapted). And no, he didn’t need first driver status at Ferrari. I remember him swerving in front of Massa going into the pits in the early races. With Massa not responding with anything (contrast with what Hamilton or Max would have done later in that race or future races) the issue was already over. I did think at the time that Alonso could have won at least one of those Red Bull- Vettel championships had he been a bit more adventurous in some races, but looking back, he was astoundingly consistent in those seasons.

          3. “But bottom line, at least FA had backed up his position with his performance.”, and schumacher didn’t? Do you think the results would’ve been considerably different without a number 1 and 2 contract? Were barrichello or massa championship material?

            Not to mention, I find it weird that the only driver in f1 with a number 1 and 2 contract would be schumacher, from how you talk about it, so either it’s just rumors, or a lot more drivers had it, they certainly didn’t need it though since they were comprehensively stronger than their team mates.

      3. It won’t be easy for Esteban.

    3. I think this will be Ocon’s last year in F1. He will be utterly dominated by Alonso, and like Vandoorne before, will be shown the door.

    4. Sam Crawford
      5th March 2021, 1:26

      Interesting that the team overalls at AMR use the Lime Green instead of pink, makes me think the pink was a last minute addition.

      Will Vettel be forced to use a pink helmet all season?

      1. Shouldn’t that team be called “Aston Martin Cognisant Mercedes Benz AMG” or don’t engine builders get any credit now ?

        1. @hohum,
          The team gets called whatever they want (and get paid) to be called.

          The car though should be the combination of the chassis name and the PU name.
          In this the chassis name should have part of the team name in it.

          At least this is what it used to be.

          1. Tommy Scragend
            5th March 2021, 13:10

            The entrant is “Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team”.

            The constructor, as you say, is Aston Martin-Mercedes.

        2. “Aston Benz” LOL

      2. You’d have to ask Ms Vettel. They already have three daughters, but maybe they are hoping for a son.

      3. Never understood why BWT is doing this.
        While I like how they usually take over the car‘s livery (because it reminds me of the old tobacco-days), forcing a driver to change their designs takes away so much personality and just screams corporate. :/

    5. Regarding the COTD .. would have to agree with @Davewillisporter . Aston Martin will probably have the 3rd fastest car this season. I reckon their closest competitor will be Ferrari, followed by Mclaren and Renault in a close battle. I don’t think Aston will finish 3rd though.. mostly due to their weak driver line up. I could easily see drivers like Leclerc, Sainz, Ricciardo and Alonso outperforming both Aston Martin drivers quite frequently. So, if I had to make a wild pre season guesstimate, I would say Aston would finish in P4, behind Ferrari.

      I don’t think Mclaren is going to have a season as strong as last year, just because the limited token system and new PU integration will have it’s teething problems, and they would probably have a stronger 2nd half to the season once they get ahead on the learning curve. Renault also seems to have gone through a major overhaul in their management, organisational structure and driver lineup. Additionally, they made the incredibly depressing announcement of making little to no gains with their PU while all the others are pushing massively on the front. I think a best case scenario for Renault would be to capitalise on opportunities early on in the season while Mclaren are struggling, so that they can stay in the fight to defend their P5 this season.

      1. I could easily see drivers like Leclerc, Sainz, Ricciardo and Alonso outperforming both Aston Martin drivers quite frequently. So, if I had to make a wild pre season guesstimate, I would say Aston would finish in P4, behind Ferrari

        Agree about the weaker drive line-up. Hence, Racing Point will definitely finish lower than P3 with what will likely be the 3rd fastest car. But, I feel they will finish P5 behind both Mclaren and Ferrari. Mclaren will do well with a Merc engine. I think they are a much different team than 2018 (When they last did an engine transition). Ferrari will improve a fair bit because of their aero design philosophy change and some (legal) gains on the engine front.

        The real question I feel is how do we know for sure Racing Point has the 3rd fastest car next year. With neither of their drivers really fast, is anyone going to *really* put the car through its paces? Apart from us rabid F1 fans, who will believe they have the 3rd fastest car if Vettel and Stroll simply qualify 9th, 10th or lower every race

      2. … don’t think Mclaren is going to have a season as strong as last year, just because the limited token system and new PU integration will have it’s teething problems…

        That said, if anybody has experience with PU integration, it’s McLaren.

        1. True.. But they always stuggled in their first year with a new PU. 2015, 2018 and maybe 2021?

      3. @todfod Although I agree that AMR’s lineup is weaker than Ferrari, Renault, and McLaren, I also think their car will be good enough to carry them to 3rd place.

      4. I reckon their closest competitor will be Ferrari, followed by Mclaren and Renault in a close battle.

        Don’t forget Alpha Tauri, @todfod.
        They were pretty strong at the end of last season.

        1. @coldfly
          True Alpha could surprise as well.. They were on strong form through the mid and end of the season. They’d be definitely nipping at Alpine’s heels as well

      5. @todfod
        AMR have already mastered complex Mercedes concepts that no other team managed to copy. How they did it… That’s another story. Low rake, long wheelbase, the nose, the sophisticated airflow management around the front wheels and the brake ducts which are a performance differentiator. Remember that they have been already looking at Mercedes W11 brake ducts since January the 20th, 2020.

        Moreover, they will inherit Mercedes rear suspension tokens free which was a key in the performance leap Mercedes made in 2020 that allowed the car to have that rear end stability and significantly increased the overall downforce. Vettel might come alive again. They will also enjoy the factory spec Mercedes powertrain which was and probably will the class of the field again. Last year they were around 6 tenths off the 2019 Mercedes pace in the races where similar tyre compounds were used and some of that deficit may be attributed to the drivers.

        I think they have a realistic chance of being the 2nd fastest car on the grid unless RBR and especially Honda will pull something out of their bags.

        1. @tifoso1989
          I think there could be race weekends where they are the 2nd fastest car on the grid. You’re completely right about mastering the copycat philosophy. They’ve got the strongest understanding of Mercedes’ design philosophy… And they have a few capable people in their squad to build on the Mercedes platform. As you mentioned, the token free updates for the rear suspension will be a noon as well.

          Beating Red bull might be difficult for them though… At least over an entire season. Red bull still develop a car brilliantly through out the year and the form they finished the season on will be carried on to next season. I can’t see AMR beating Red bull unless Honda pulls off another disaster as they did in 2015 and 2017.

          AMR are still the team to beat in the midfield though.

          1. @todfod
            I kind of agree with you that beating RBR over a season might prove to be a difficult task for them due to RBR’s ability to develop the car and add to that the Verstappen factor. However, I was talking about the raw performance of the car, if they can get close to the W11 performance levels, which was insane, they might have a chance to start the season with the 2nd fastest car. Honda though remains the question mark, whether their anticipated 2022 PU will deliver or not on 2021 ?

      6. It does seem as though the packaging is very tightly done on the AMR21, from what little I understand of things and looking at the photos! I think it was in a Scarbs video where he postulated that the engine cover blisters were bigger on the AMR21 than the W12 because the engine cover was even tighter to the internals, so presumably presenting a smaller frontal area, improving airflow to the rear etc. Could be a surprisingly quick car and I wouldn’t underestimate Vettel’s ability in a team that seems to be giving him a big cuddle and a stable car, although appreciate you need two consistent drivers to score consistent points!

    6. Maybe not in a formal sense but I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up that way in a Russel/Latifi sense… I hope not though.

      1. I think very few (if any) teams will specify No1/No2 drivers in their contracts. The Ferrari/Schumacher situation gets remarked upon because it was, and is, so unusual. However many teams hire their drivers with the expectation that a clear No1 and No2 will emerge. In that sense Alpine is no different to Mercedes, Aston Martin or Williams.

    7. I share the same sentiment as the COTD.

      A nice Q&A with Seb. I’ve got a suggestion for the car name: Moneypenny, M, or Q.

      1. I don’t think Q has ever been a woman.
        @jerejj

        But how wrong was I:
        Real-life ‘James Bond Q’ is a woman, MI6 reveals (BBC)

        1. @coldfly Doesn’t necessarily have to be a female name anyway, which is essentially my point in adding ‘Q’ as an alternative.

          1. @jerejj, as far as I recall Vettel always gives his car a female name.

            1. As I quipped a few days ago, since Zak Brown took great pleasure in reminding us they were (RP) Tracing Point, I think now he’ll call them (AM) Artificial Mercedes.

        2. @coldfly strictly speaking, the character Q only appears indirectly in the original books and the reference itself is a contraction of “Quartermaster” (i.e. a provisioner of supplies) – as it’s technically just a title, the original books do leave some ambiguity in that area.

    8. I think this is the same kind of “there’s no number two driver” as Mercedes has. And probably Red Bull too. Where the number one drivers are so extraordinary, they’ll just naturally be ahead regardless and it’s just kind of understood by the others.

      Though I’m not entirely sure Ocon is the team player that Bottas has turned out to be.

    9. Whether it is stipulated or not, Alonso is going to behave like, and come to be treated as, the number one driver inn that team. A leopard doesn’t change its spots. I can’t see Ocon faring well. After a lukewarm season last year, it may be a shortcut to him seeing the F1 door.

    10. Being second driver does not exactly mean giving way to your teammate on track.

      There’s more subtle things, like who gets the new parts if there’s only one available? Who gets the best strategy in case of a sudden change? (I’m not talking about the crashgate, but it comes to mind). Things like Leclerc ruining his race to hold the pack until Vettel arrives (early 2019). I believe Alonso’s contract states more than just “I’ll drive for this much $$”.

      But I guess that’s a message for Ocon. Do your thing on the track, do your best Leclerc impersonation, beat your 2x WDC teammate and you’re on!

      1. Things like Leclerc ruining his race to hold the pack until Vettel arrives (early 2019)

        Where was this. I struggle to remember.

        1. I think it was either Spain 2019 or Baku 2019

        2. Baku 2019. Leclerc had a 10s lead after Mercedes and Vettel pitted. Instead of bringing him in for fresh tyres, Ferrari kept him on track on worn rubber to hold the Mercedes. Bottas ended up overtaking him on track and Vettel had no answer.

          1. Only Facts!, there are some important details to note about how exactly Baku played out due to Leclerc’s crash in qualifying, which meant he was running the opposite strategy to the two Mercedes drivers and Vettel.

            The strategy that Leclerc ran was the one that most teams originally wanted to run – a long first stint on the medium tyres, followed by a short stint on the softer tyre at the end of the race. However, only Leclerc had been confident of being quick enough in Q2 to pull that strategy off, whereas the two Mercedes drivers and Vettel were starting on the soft tyres and then switching to the medium tyres later on.

            In the race, we have Vettel making his pit stop on lap 11 to put the two Mercedes drivers under more pressure, with Mercedes pitting Bottas on lap 12 and Hamilton on lap 13 in succession to counter Vettel. Those early pit stops put Leclerc into the lead of the race, with Leclerc holding a 13 second lead over Bottas at that point in time.

            Now, whilst you complain that Ferrari should have brought Leclerc in – what tyres can he fit? As he was on the medium tyre, he couldn’t pit again and run that same tyre as he needs to run both compounds – the high degradation meant that he also couldn’t try running a long stint on the soft tyres either, with most drivers only doing about 10-14 laps on the softs.

            The strategy that Leclerc ran, which was to run a 34 lap opening stint on those medium tyres, was the only strategy he could really run. Leclerc’s stint on the medium tyres was shorter than the stint that the two Mercedes drivers and Vettel ran and also comparable in length to what most of the field also ran on those tyres – I don’t see what else Leclerc or Ferrari were supposed to do, and pitting him when you wanted Ferrari to pit him would have made things a lot worse for him.

            Ferrari knew that Leclerc would ultimately be passed on track, but the expectation was that switching to the softs in the latter part of the race would allow him to catch back up to Vettel and the two Mercedes drivers – which was just what those drivers were worried about. What surprised many, and what ultimately scuppered Leclerc, was that his pace on the soft tyres was slower than expected – for whatever reason, his race pace just wasn’t as strong as had been expected based on the practice sessions.

    11. No number one my ass :D

      1. Renault living up to its expectations even before the season starts…. this is going to be quite a ride this year. A lot of talk, a lot of excuses, a lot of underperformance. Renault strikes me as the team that is constantly drowning itself by talk and politics rather than intellect and actually developing world class cars. Did they get rid of Abitebould? I believe they did, right? Could help a bit, but then again culture eats strategy for breakfast..

    12. I agree with what Rossi is saying – I’m not sure that “#1 and #2” drivers really do exist any more, unless a team is chasing a world championship and one driver is asked to sacrifice his position. Which I’m sure won’t be the case with alpine, at least not this year. I think Alonso will soon establish himself as the “lead” driver, just by virtue of him being quicker and more experienced, but I can’t see them prioritizing or favoring one driver.

    13. I like that maybe Ricciardo will be able to drive a car from Dale Sr, his childhood hero, I wish I had the chance to drive any of Zak’s race car collection. I believe he has all of my dream cars in any race category. There’s at least 30 of them that I would trade 1 year salary just to drive one of them in a closed circuit. Lucky Ric.

    14. I believe that Ocon will be defeated again by his teammate.

    15. All drivers are equal at Alpine. Excellent.

      Now let’s not forget to give Alonso equal space as you allow him past you.

      1. I can’t see Alonso passing Ocon.

        He’s going to start ahead and drive away.

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