Esteban Ocon has defended Alpine's mid-season Formula 1 slump, believing it shows just how "tight" the midfield battle is.
After a slow start to the season, Alpine's fortunes improved at the Monaco Grand Prix, with Ocon finishing third and teammate Pierre Gasly seventh as it looked to nudge ahead of midfield rival McLaren.
However, McLaren's mid-season upgrade in Austria and Britain has propelled it to fight for regular podiums while Alpine is yet to finish a race higher than seventh since Monte Carlo.
In the week before the summer break, the team lost CEO Laurent Rossi who was relieved of his duties by Renault Group boss Luca de Meo, with Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer and Sporting Director Alan Permane also departing after the Belgian Grand Prix.
After two double-DNFs at Silverstone and the Hungaroring, Gasly took third in the Spa Sprint to bring much much-needed respite to the team - with Ocon believing the struggles are just a symptom of how close the midfield is.
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"It is easy to say that, for you, now," Ocon said when asked by media including RacingNews365 if the team would start to begin focus on the 2024 car and forget the target to finish fourth in the Constructors'.
"We've been working very hard, and obviously we've not had the best couple of races.
"But when we've brought some good updates to the car, we were fighting near the top five. We had a couple of Qualifying sessions where we were very well into the top 10.
"I finished on the podium in Monaco, we qualified in the top five in Barcelona and in Canada I was P6 on the grid.
"It just hasn't gone our way recently, other teams have improved more than we did.
"But it shows just how tight it is and how much bringing something to the next race can change things.
"We've seen it with McLaren what can happen, but obviously I am not saying that bringing an update is what we are going to do.
"We are keeping focused on ourselves and trying to do the best we can."