Esteban Ocon had an eventful, albeit unlucky, weekend in Bahrain. He was the quicker of the two Alpine drivers before yellow flags in Q1 ruined his qualifying. In the race, a strange strategy of starting with the soft tire left Esteban Ocon with too much to do as compared to the drivers around him.
He would further struggle when his late charge for points was thwarted by Sebastian Vettel, who rammed his Aston Martin into the back of his Alpine. Reflecting on what was a tough weekend, Ocon acknowledged that Alpine was down on performance as compared to where they expected themselves to be.
The team could have scored points if not for their poor starting position, but even for that, they needed to extract the maximum out of the car.
“I think if we started further up the road, I think we would be fighting for points, for sure,” Ocon said. “I fought with the Aston Martin of Vettel today and Lance finished in the points. We were fighting with those cars. It’s clear what hurt us was the starting position."
The Frenchman added,
“I think if we were starting inside the top ten, of course, you’re already in the points, but 11th or 12th, that would have been a chance for us to get into the points. But only just, clearly. We don’t have any margin, we clearly need to extract the maximum out of the car to do that."
Esteban Ocon: This season's car is not a carryover of last year's car
Esteban Ocon clarified that this year's Alpine does not bear much of a resemblance to last year's Renault because of the regulation changes. There has been a narrative that the 2021 cars are nothing but evolutions of last year's cars because of the rules remaining the same. Esteban Ocon, however, disagrees and says that the cars of this year are different machinery compared to those from last year.
“Everyone says, it’s a year we keep the same rules, it’s a carryover from last year,” he added. “This is not the reality in fact. In fact, most of the car is new for everybody, for us, for sure, we know what we have on the car."
Esteban Ocon further explains how every team has lost a good amount of downforce, which is the case with Alpine as well. The team has identified areas where they need to make improvements. According to Ocon, it was down to the team to make relevant progress to become more competitive.
"We know where to find the time and we know where to recover the lap time. The part of spots where it is is done, now we have to do it.”
Alpine had a rough start to 2021 with Fernando Alonso retiring in the first race and Ocon having an off day. The team needs to get their performance on the car to match the pre-season expectations that they carried into 2021.