Formula 1, Esteban Ocon driver for Alpine team. “I reached a milestone this year”
By Augustin Bouquet des Chaux
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Dieppe Information: From an accounting point of view, you had your best season in Formula 1 with your best points. But we know that it depends a lot on the car. So apart from the accounting aspect, do you think you’ve had your best season since coming to F1?
Esteban Ocon: Granted, in the end the points really depend on the car. But I think all the 5th places we’ve had this year, all the comebacks we’ve had from far away… Those are the things that allow me to think I’ve hit a milestone this year.
The fight on the track, the starts… I found really good feelings. With these new cars, I feel like I’m reliving my years in the lower categories a bit with the streamlined suspension.
I found a great feeling in all the fights. I feel very comfortable, the starts showed this year, I systematically gained places or at least kept my place.
This is your best season, and yet the general public may not remember it because, unlike last year, the team did not have a podium or victory (win for him in Hungary, podium for Alonso in Qatar). Frustrated as a pilot?
We were not far behind Japan as we took 4th place. He missed one position, but it was for lack of conditions. This year the direction of the competition has changed. Race directors now make different decisions, a little more “old fashioned”, safer, less twists and turns in the race.
We no longer have these stop starts after a red flag, now they start under the safety car. As we have seen, races like mine or Pierre’s victory (Gasli editor’s note) are the result of the decisions of the old leadership. VS
Obviously the lack of a podium is a disadvantage this year, but overall the season has been better and more solid.
Unlike last year, we have really progressed. I would like to finish on the podium or win the race, we are working on it and we will be back soon.
You took the 4th place in the Constructors’ Championship with “Alpine”, one step up from last year. What do you think has made you so far?
We didn’t start with an advanced car. We started with a car that was further ahead than last year.
The difference is that the team has really given itself the tools to move forward by bringing in new parts and new ideas.
Every race we had new parts, the team was really aggressive in terms of development. As a result, we were ahead of Haas, AlphaTauri and Alfa Romeo as we were behind in pre-season testing.
We got to this level by working hard on the simulator because we quickly identified what was wrong with Fernando and the team found ways to fix it. The guys at Viry-Châtillon and Enstone did a great job.
Given this progress, is there any chance we’ll see Alpine take on the big three teams of Mercedes, Ferrari and Redbull next season, or is the gap still too big?
This season, we managed to overtake Mercedes in the standings, especially on one circuit. In general, they were much stronger than us in the competition.
The goal is to increase power, but the gap is huge. Going from 4th place to 3rd place is more difficult than going from 6th place to 4th place. We are aware of the challenge, we want to continue to gain momentum and approach this 3rd place constructor and tickle the top three.
But it will take time, and we shouldn’t underestimate the likes of McLarens and Aston Martins, who are also developing a lot. We’ll have to see where we are at the start of next season.
How do you envision your future relationship with the other Norman of the Grid, Rouennais Pierre Gasly?
Pierre and I have known each other very well for a long time. He was first in a mine car on the Anneville-Ambourville track near Rouen.
We have been riding together since childhood. We had a common dream, to be in Formula 1 and drive for a big team. It’s crazy to think it’s just that, we’re there. We will be riding for one of the biggest teams in the world and for the Norman brand. Great story, can’t wait to start collaborating.
For the first time Pierre and you will have the same car and the same vehicle, we will finally know who is the best Frenchman on the grid at the end of 2023, does that create more pressure?
No, I don’t understand cooperation at all. We have a great story to write with Pierre, a lot of work to bring the car to the highest level. But like every year in Formula 1, you have to prove it.
Before the arrival of Fernando Alonso, I was asked if I was afraid to work with him because we saw drivers crushed by Fernando and it ended their careers.
But I’m still here, I beat him, I’m in better shape than ever. It’s a high level sport, you always have to be on top and I’ll be on top next year so there’s no problem.
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