Alpine F1 Team and Esteban Ocon did not have the best opening round at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Ocon finished a lowly P13, while returning two-time Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso was forced to retire during the race. This means that Alpine, who had finished P5 in the constructors' championship last season, have started the 2021 season without any points to their name.
Ocon claims that the midfield pack is extremely close this season, meaning Alpine must maximize their points return at every race. According to the Frenchman, the team cannot afford to have more off weekends like the Bahrain Grand Prix. Esteban Ocon further claimed that the team needs to extract all the pace from the car to be competitive this season.
In an interview with Motorsport.com, Ocon said:
"We don't have any margin and we need to extract the maximum out of the car to be able to do that. We have clear ways of seeing where we are lacking a little bit of performance or where we have an area to improve. We know where it is, it is up to us to find that and find more pace for the next events so that gives us a bit more of a margin."
New regulations have hurt Alpine: Ocon
Alpine are now the only team on the grid using Renault engines after McLaren switched to Mercedes for the 2021 season. This means less data gained from the power unit, which could be costly to the French team. Ocon also opined that while the 2021 Renault engine is the best he has ever had, there is a loss in downforce due to the new regulations.
"Of course the new rules have changed a lot of things. In fact, most of the car is new for everybody. For us for sure as we know what we have on the car. Everybody lost a good amount of grip and downforce and everybody is trying to get that back on the cars."
Alpine and Aston Martin are the two teams who have lost the most pace due to the new regulations for the 2021 season. With Ferrari looking close to their former selves and AlphaTauri benefiting from competitive Honda engines, Alpine cannot afford to miss out on points in any more races.
For a team that was supposed to win races this year, the Bahrain Grand Prix was a stern reminder that Alpine needs to make constant improvement to remain competitive in Formula 1. Otherwise, the team runs the risk of being out-developed and eventually, out-raced.