Esteban Ocon says the pace of development at Alpine is the best he has seen throughout his F1 career.
Although there were to be no race wins or podium finishes for Ocon or teammate Fernando Alonso in 2022, the two were regular points scorers, helping Alpine leapfrog McLaren to seal fourth place in the 2022 F1 Constructors' Championship.
Speaking exclusively to RacingNews365.com, Ocon said the pace of development at Alpine was the best he had ever known, and paid tribute to the hard work of the team's engineers and designers.
"Producing updates has been awesome this year, delivering parts has been mega," said Ocon.
"I've never been in a Formula 1 team where there were so many new parts coming so quickly!
"People stayed at the factory during public holidays, and days where they could have been at home, working hard producing floors and front wings.
"Honestly, I was super impressed. I went a couple of months ago to the manufacturing department, and I gave a big cheer to everyone because they deserved it.
"And that's why we made so much of a step, thanks to their hard work. It's not something that I have seen in teams that I’ve been in before that much.
"For example – we planned to sometimes split the [updates on the] cars, because we had one update. It's quite risky, because if you change spec [during a race weekend], you [start from] the pit lane.
"And in the end, [the update] turned up before the weekend. That was unexpected. And that happened three, four or five times. It was super impressive."
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Alpine 'on the right target' after 2022
Though both Ocon and Alpine scored more points in 2022 than they had managed in 2021, the Frenchman had notably taken his maiden Grand Prix win in Hungary last year, when he kept his head amid rain-inflicted chaos on Lap 1 to control the race from the front and see out a shock victory.
However, that win, though deserved, owed much to a set of extraordinary circumstances, and Alpine have not come close to fighting for wins on merit over the past two seasons.
In 2021, Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi spoke of a 100-race target to be fighting at the front in F1, which would mean the Enstone outfit challenging for regular wins by the 2025 season. How long will it be before Ocon stands on the top step of the rostrum again?
"I want to taste it soon, I tell you, but everybody's working hard on that. It’s hard to give a time on that," said Ocon.
"Obviously, there is the 100-race target, but I feel that we're on the right path after this year, and that's the important thing. I think from there on, we're only going to improve."
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