Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021

Ocon: We need to extract the maximum from the car to score points

2021 F1 Season

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Esteban Ocon says the Bahrain Grand Prix showed Alpine must extract the maximum from their car to have a chance of scoring points.

The team which ended the year fifth in the championship last year as Renault left the first race of the 2021 F1 season without a point.

Ocon qualified 16th at Sakhir, having been one of four drivers who were disadvanted by in yellow flags at the end of Q1. Reflecting on where he had lost out on points in the race, Ocon said that starting position had been essential.

“If we started further up the road, I think we were going to be fighting for points for sure,” he said. “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.”

He said the midfield is so tight the team cannot afford to leave any of their potential untapped.

“Clearly it’s that we don’t have any margin. We need to extract the maximum out of the car to be able to do that.

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“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.”

Although many car components for 2021 are the same as they were last year, there have been some key changes – including dramatic cuts to downforce – which Alpine were still getting to grips with, said Ocon.

“The new rule has changed a lot of things,” he explains. “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.”

However Ocon believes the team knows what it needs to do to regain its lost ground.

“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.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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14 comments on “Ocon: We need to extract the maximum from the car to score points”

  1. A tough year ahead for the French squad. Finishing last year regularly in good points scoring position, they decided to drastically change their platform car and resulted in battling with those at the back; in this case Aston Martin that made similar choices. Both will fight the Alfa Romeo for 6th place in the constructors.

  2. They’ll certainly need to address their deficiencies if they want Alonso to stay happy. I guess they’re used to their PU being rubbished though :)

  3. There’s no potential in a Renault/Alpine car. Even after they “improved” the reliability of their power unit, they still have problems and are forced to slow down the car during the race. They have the worst engine power-wise. They lost to their client, McLaren, last year.

    To sum up, Mercedes and Red Bull will again be on top next year, and Alpine will be again fighting for top-15 at best.

  4. “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.”

    Maybe Alpine just needs to provide him a mirror.

    1. Does comments like ‘we need to maximise the potential in are car’ annoy anyone or is it just me? I would have thought all the teams & drivers would be doing that. It seems like an easy way of saying we under performed, with out actually admitting to umder performing

      1. Not so much annoying knowing where it came from.
        Humorous / laughable might also be valid.
        Find me an F1 team that isn’t trying to get 100+% from the car. That is what the sport is all about.
        The real question is can Alonso make more of the tools at hand than EO. Stay tuned.

  5. Yes, in the end renault disappointed over and over, it’s useless to be a manufacturer if you constantly end up behind your customers.

  6. Am I alone in being unimpressed with Ocon since his arrival on the scene?

    1. His first tenure at Force India was more than convincing.

  7. Zero downforce, zero PU. I don’t see how they’ll make shine that Alpine niche brand qualifying 15th.
    If it were to continue uncompetitive, they’ll switch back to Renault again in a few years to clear off this Alpine era.

  8. “I got nowhere near the points, therefore the only way to get points is if everything goes my way in which case I have maximized my performance”

    A shame for Ocon that Alonso managed to hold a points position in his first race while still ‘exploring’ then isnt it. Sandwich bags notwithstanding.

  9. Is Ocon already doing damage control? Alonso seemed to be racing for points already.

  10. I so wanted to see Alonso on a F1 podium again, but this year’s car is a big disappointment after last year’s showings.

  11. Brain damaging insight. :-)

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