Ocon says it’s “very clear” what Alpine needs to improve after running in traffic during F1 Saudi Arabian GP

Photo Credit: BWT Alpine F1 Team
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Alpine has an underwhelming start of the 2024 season, to put it mildly. Completely off the pace in Bahrain, the only reason they didn’t finish last was due to the misfortune of Logan Sargeant and Valtteri Bottas. A week later in Jeddah it wasn’t much better, as Pierre Gasly had to retire after one lap. Esteban Ocon managed to stay ahead of a few cars, but was helped by Kevin Magnussen dropping the pace to help his Haas teammate Nico Hülkenberg and bringing the Frenchman into the mix with the likes of Tsunoda and Sargeanr.

The 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix winner managed to find a few positives from the race, although he had to admit his 13th place finishing position was really the result of an opportunistic race, rather than an improvement of Alpine’s pace.

“I think an opportunistic race, that’s how we should call it,” the Frenchman explained. “I think we were up to P10 at some point virtually, because Kevin had the penalty.

“We navigated our way through and fought our way through and there were a lot of battles. But in the end it was just not enough. We were up to a point that we couldn’t keep. Basically we were faster than what the car could do in the end, and we went backwards towards the end.”

While being in the Magnussen train, being in the presence of other cars gave him and the team a few insights in where the car needs improvement.

“So it’s very clear what we need to improve for the next races now. Racing more with the other guys it was easier to spot than in Bahrain.

“We’re going to keep digging, keep pushing, and I’m going to be in the factory [this week], so I’m going to keep pushing to find solutions with the guys.

“In comparison to Bahrain I think here there were quite a few things that we spotted that we can improve. But there is a lot to improve still, and we are aware of it.”

Despite overtaking a Yuki Tsunoda after the Japanese driver tried to overtake Magnussen there was little he could actually do to improve his position from there as the Dane fended off Tsunoda initially, before doing it to Albon. He would then gap that pack following Hulkenberg’s stop.

“I couldn’t really fight. It’s quite a big statement to say that we could fight. We managed to get in front of them somehow, but on a normal circuit, I think, with normal situations, and no fighting, we are still behind.”

The Alpine-driver refused to throw Magnussen under the bus for his very defensive driving, despite the penalties he had picked up.

“It was tough racing, but I like tough racing, so that’s not for me to complain about. Is it too much? I don’t know. The FIA has to decide if it’s too much or not, it’s not on my side. But being behind with how much traffic it created, it created some tricky situations.”

He continues: “I think his team has been very tough with him on that one [by asking him to slow rivals]. It’s been quite chaotic, to say the least.

“Good opportunities on my side, because otherwise, I would probably not have been able to fight for that.”