"I think Max Verstappen is too far away” - Alpine claim Red Bull out of reach but expect to stay ahead of Mercedes in the championship 

F1 Grand Prix of Monaco
F1 Grand Prix of Monaco - Esteban Ocon finishes on the podium in Monaco (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Alpine sporting director Alan Permane believes that while Max Verstappen and Red Bull might be too far away to catch in 2023, the French team can expect to stay ahead of Mercedes over the course of the season. The French team had an excellent outing in Monaco, with Esteban Ocon finishing P3 on the streets of Monte Carlo.

Ocon was promoted to P3 after Charles Leclerc received a three-place grid penalty for impeding Lando Norris in qualifying. However, the Frenchman did extremely well to stay ahead of both the Mercedes in the intermittent conditions, giving Alpine their best result of the year so far.

Permane believes that Ocon's pace was not an anomaly and was not Monaco-specific. The sporting director believes the team can stay ahead of Mercedes all year long under the right circumstances.

As reported by Motorsport-Total, Permane said:

"I think Max Verstappen is too far away, and the same goes for Sergio [Perez]. If he's having a good day. It's going to be difficult with Fernando [Alonso], but I don't see any reason why we shouldn't take on Mercedes and Ferrari. That's what we've done here and in Miami. In Miami, they were even faster than us, but we kept up."

Max Verstappen opens up about the final races of the 2021 season

Max Verstappen recently shared that the 2021 Formula 1 season, during which he secured his first drivers' championship, provided him with the most exhilarating and challenging experience of his career.

As the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix approached in 2021, Verstappen found himself locked in an intense battle with Lewis Hamilton for the championship. To prevent Hamilton from claiming his eighth F1 title and to secure his own maiden crown, Verstappen needed to emerge victorious in the race.

Hamilton showcased his prowess at the Yas Marina Circuit, swiftly seizing the lead on the opening lap and maintaining control for a considerable portion of the race. Just when it appeared that Hamilton was on course to defend his title, Nicholas Latifi's collision with the wall at Turn 14 dramatically altered the race's trajectory.

Verstappen strategically opted to enter the pit lane and acquire a fresh set of soft tires. With these tires, he executed a brilliant maneuver, overtaking Hamilton on the inside at Turn 5 to capture his first championship in the process.

Speaking about the intensity of that part of the season, Max Verstappen said:

"2021 was also my first option to win a title. I knew I had to make everything perfect. It's the most intense I've ever felt, fighting every weekend. Now I am much more relaxed. But I want to do more. Past experiences help."

With the Dutchman well on his way to a third consecutive title, it will be interesting to follow his season development.

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Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee
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