New contract for “top 10 driver” Ocon was an easy decision, says Rossi

2021 French Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Signing Esteban Ocon to a new, three-year deal was a “no-brainer”, says Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi.

The team announced ahead of their home race that Ocon, who joined them last year, will remain in their cars until the end of 2024 at least.

Rossi described Ocon as “a great fine-tuner” of the car, whose approach reminded him of four-times world champion Alain Prost.

“He is very good at extracting the maximum out of the car,” said Rossi. “And it shows, he is constantly improving it. “He’s damn fast, too. Give him any car, he’s fast. He shows it every quali. So that makes him a very good driver.”

Ocon has also integrated well with the Alpine team since his arrival at the beginning of last year, when it ran under the name of brand owner Renault, said Rossi.

“He is a good team mate […] not just to the other driver, also the rest of the team. He is basically pushing everyone up and it shows. So he is a great guy to have in the team, in fact.

“And then beyond the F1 driver he is a great guy. He is humble, very generous of his time, constantly giving his time. Even to us in the larger construct, he always offers to chime into the development of the new car or the brand awareness that will work. So it’s really good to have him around. That’s why we signed him for three years.”

Keeping Ocon on board brings stability to the team’s line-up. The 2022 F1 season will be the first time since Renault returned to F1 in 2016 that the team has begun two consecutive championships with the same drivers.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“We have a mid-to-long term view of things at Renault,” said Rossi. “We want to be here for a long time so we wanted to secure that first step. The first step is three years.

Ocon is a “top 10 driver, minimum”, says Rossi
“We’ve seen enough of Esteban, we know he’s good. I don’t want to be here again looking for another driver after two years. The recent past shows that it never really turns to the right way, you have a good driver, you want to keep him.

“So I think it’s good for us, good for him. We have a long runway to make progress. It buys into the project, it lends credibility to our project.

“For me it’s also a guarantee that we’re going to perform on the driver department. Esteban is arguably a top 10 driver, minimum. So we don’t make a big mistake here. So for me it was a no-brainer. It’s part of a long journey and Esteban fits into that mould quite well.”

Ocon is managed by Mercedes, but Rossi confirmed the world champions will not be able to call on his services over the duration of his contract.

“He is a Mercedes-managed driver, that’s about it,” said Rossi. “So he is constantly under their management, but there’s no such clause as Mercedes […] putting him out of the team. No, he stays with us for the next three years.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2021 French Grand Prix

Browse all 2021 French Grand Prix articles

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...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

8 comments on “New contract for “top 10 driver” Ocon was an easy decision, says Rossi”

  1. “Arguably a top ten driver” is not a huge compliment, when you’re in a field of 20 drivers.

    1. He did use the word ‘minimum’. And I think it is a fair assessment of Ocon.

      At the minimum, I can say there are 5 drivers performing better than Ocon this season – Max, Lewis, Lando, Charles, at least 1 of George / Pierre depending upon whose fan you are.

      After the top 5, the rankings of the drivers can tend to get more muddled and biased. So, a top 10 driver seems like a fair assessment.

    2. It is when those other ten include two or arguably three former world champions.

      Leaving the rookies aside for now, there aren’t any drivers who seem out of place in F1. For all the jokes about Stroll’s rich dad throwing dozens of millions to entertain his son, the guy is actually not a bad driver.

      Perhaps subconsciously that also influences people’s perceptions as it shows there isn’t that much difference between what are said to be the best ever drivers and some guy who bought his way in.

  2. Good for him. I think he is a good driver and seems like a nice guy. I was reading about his path to F1 coming from a mid class family and all the sacrifices his parents made to make it happen. I’m glad he is enjoying some success in his career.

    1. He is a very decent driver. Not sure if he really is a great guy.
      Some on the paddock avoid him. Like gasly.

      1. And maybe Verstappen and probably the noob teams Ferrari and Haas.

      2. Davethechicken
        18th June 2021, 21:35

        He beat your precious Max to the F3 championship. I am surprised you are not having a dig at him.
        Then again best to big them up so your man doesnt look so small

  3. Very difficult to big someone up who takes out the race-leader while being a lap behind.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.
If the person you're replying to is a registered user you can notify them of your reply using '@username'.