Having struggled for any sort of pace or form over a handful of races, Alpine's decision to give Esteban Ocon a new chassis ahead of the British Grand Prix appears to have borne immediate fruit with the French driver scoring points at Silverstone and then winning the Hungarian Grand Prix.
According to RacingNews365 F1 journalist Dieter Rencken, the change of chassis is likely to have helped Ocon mentally reset after a few tough races where he couldn't match the speed of teammate Fernando Alonso, rather than there being anything in particular wrong with the chassis itself.
"Absolutely, it seems to have helped him. But, equally, we did discuss this with Marcin [Budkowski, Alpine Executive Director]. And it appears as though there wasn't that much wrong with the old chassis, that it was possibly a combination of driver needing to get his head clear and the chassis change. And I think that sort of did it."
"I very often wonder how much of these, these symptoms are actually more psychological than technical."
Having signed a long-term deal to stay at Alpine until 2024 ahead of the French Grand Prix, Ocon immediately started struggling for pace. Coming home in 14th at Paul Ricard, he repeated the result at the Styrian Grand Prix before a first lap retirement at the Austrian GP. It was at this point Alpine elected to give the French driver a chassis change.
"He went through a bit of a slump. And I think that drivers then look at every single reason, they always believe that they are actually performing," Rencken explained.
"When they go through a bit of a slump, they look at everything. And the easiest component to blame is, of course, the car. Because if your teammate is outperforming you in, allegedly, the identical car, then obviously you turn around 'it's not me, it must be something else'. And they then start looking for reasons.
"And of course, the data will show up that the driver is a bit slower here or there. And that's when they say 'Well, maybe the chassis is a bit cracked or a bit out of line', or whatever the case may be.
"Let's not forget that the chassis...a lot of them have been carried over from last year, that some of them have been repaired after accidents and whatever else, a lot of the kit was carried over. And it's possible that Esteban suspected that his particular chassis had had a particularly rough history and was to blame.
"So you know, there is a bit to changing your chassis, but I think sometimes it's also psychological."
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