Esteban Ocon backs himself to repeat Monaco heroics and make the ‘difference’ with Alpine upgrades in the Spanish F1 GP
Esteban Ocon is confident of repeating his Monaco Grand Prix heroics at this weekend's Spanish GP.
On the narrow, twisting, and turning street circuit in Monaco, a sensational qualifying saw Ocon placed fourth, before being promoted to third after Charles Leclerc was hit with a three-place grid penalty.
On race day, Ocon stayed cool under pressure and switched to the intermediates at the right time to cross the chequered flag and finish P3. He took his third podium in Formula 1 (after Bahrain 2020 and Hungary 2021) and became the first Frenchman to finish in the top three in Monaco since Olivier Panis in 1996.
Buoyed by his Monaco performance, Ocon heads to Barcelona with his eyes firmly set on another good race weekend. The upgrade package that Alpine introduced in Monaco gave them a big boost and the 26-year-old hopes they can continue to make a difference at the top end of the field.
“I think so far, the car has felt more alive since Monaco, so since we are bringing the updates. I think it’s been awesome that the team kept pushing like that and kept pushing very aggressively into developments, and visually you can see how aggressive it is,” he said after the free practice sessions on Friday, June 2.
"But you know, it’s been only Friday on a normal track. It’s tomorrow really that we are going to see where we are exactly,” he added.
Going by the FP2 performances in Spain, the qualifying could be decided by fine margins. The top 10 lapped within half a second of Max Verstappen in FP2, and the top 17 were all within a second of the Red Bull Racing driver.
Armed with the upgraded A523, Ocon is looking forward to doing well in Saturday's qualifying.
“It [qualifying] is going to be super close, that’s for sure. I mean, three tenths I think is about 10 places. So it’s pretty awesome, really awesome to see that. The field is getting so close since a couple of races [ago] and that means that the driver can do the difference, and I hope it’s going to be a similar thing in quali, and I hope that we can have a chance obviously of fighting near the front,” he expressed.
Esteban Ocon's podium finish in Monaco bodes well for Alpine for the rest of the season, believes Mark Hughes
F1 pundit Mark Hughes believes that Esteban Ocon's P3 finish at the Monaco GP may be the start of a good run for Alpine this season.
In an episode of The Race podcast, Hughes said:
"There's reason to be optimistic that this is a genuine improvement in pace. The Alpine's been a bit inconsistent but even before its upgrade, there'd been some little glimpses of form. It's sort of snapping at the heels of Mercedes-Ferrari, the tail end of that group there from time-to-time and maybe it can get amongst it, that'd be great to see if could do not. We'll get a proper read on that in Barcelona, a more demanding track," he opined.
Ocon's Monaco result gave Alpine their first podium since the 2021 Qatar GP, when Fernando Alonso finished P3.