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Esteban Ocon

Interview: Ocon notes 'huge' Alpine improvements since joining team

Esteban Ocon has several Formula 1 seasons under his belt and over the last few years, he has embedded himself within the Alpine family. Speaking to RacingNews365, the Frenchman reflected on 2023 and looked ahead to future prospects.

Ocon Abu Dhabi
Interview
To news overview © XPBimages

Alpine's 2023 Formula 1 campaign was largely overshadowed by a series of managerial changes that took place midway through the year. In fact, prominent change was present right from the start as Pierre Gasly joined following several years under the Red Bull umbrella.

Ocon's career highlight to date came with the French manufacturer when he prevailed at the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix to secure his first race win in F1.

Despite the boost that it offered Alpine, the team has not been able to make strides forward since then and spent this year's campaign lodged securely in the midfield. While it watched rivals Aston Martin and McLaren make impressive gains, Alpine slipped to sixth in the Constructors' Championship.

There were highlights however, as the team ended the year with two podiums. Ocon bagged one of those as he crossed the line in third place around the famous Monaco streets.

“I think there have been some ups and downs, quite a bit,” Ocon exclusively told RacingNews365. “Which is not ideal, obviously, in the season.

“We had some very good moments like Monaco and Spa, they were races where we were very, very strong.

“Each time we had an opportunity, we took it as a team and that's been fantastic. So we need to keep that going.”

'I don't know if it's realistic, I don't care either'

But while Ocon highlighted Alpine's positive moments from the year, the Frenchman did not shy away from the fact that the team has a task ahead of it if it wishes to improve.

“We need to work on the performance of the car, some teams have done a better job than us in progressing and getting stronger updates into the cars.

“That's what we need to try and change. Obviously, we're already working on the 2024 car in the simulator. We took it earlier in the year, which should help for our 2024 campaign.”

The developments of Aston Martin and McLaren in 2023 prompted several drivers to highlight them as inspiration going forward.

When asked if its realistic to produce similar gains with development next year, Ocon said: “I don't know if it's realistic, I don't care to be honest.

“That’s what we have to look at. That's where we have to aim. We want to close the gap, we want to get more competitive.

“We're not going into the new year thinking otherwise. Because otherwise we would never be winners.”

But what specifically does Alpine need to improve for 2024?

“When people ask me that, [I find it] quite funny because it's never one thing in Formula 1. It’s always a lot of details, a lot of different departments that are just lacking a little bit of something that's showing up in the pace of the car.

“That's what we need to be stronger at, it's a little bit everywhere. I would say we are not the best straight line or not the best in corners or managing our tyres. It's a little bit of everything. So we need to keep working hard and hopefully we'll find some good performance.”

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			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Ocon keeps notes

Ocon revealed that he keeps notes on his phone regarding areas that Alpine must improve on and stated that he has already seen positive growth from previous campaigns.

“I always keep big notes in my phone throughout the years on what we have to improve and it's quite crazy,” he said. “I was reading through 2020 and 2021, the amount of things that we've solved, that we've moved forward, that we've improved, it's been huge.

“You don't always translate this straightaway to performance. But it also shows that the other teams are moving forward. We're not the only ones working, we need to just work smarter and better than other teams.

“I should maybe not say that [about the notes] because people will try and steal my phone! I mean, since 2018, 2019, I've been doing this. I’ve got a lot of notes from my Mercedes days as well in 2019 which were very interesting.”

Asked about the management changes that saw Laurent Rossi, Otmar Szafnauer and Alan Permane leave their roles during the year, Ocon declared that he is solely focused on the driving side of the operation.

“I've always been focused on the driver’s job that I have to do, which is to be driving the car as fast as it can go,” he said.

“That's the only thing I can do. That's the only thing I should be worried about. That’s all I’m focusing on.”

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