“That’s the hardest I’ve had to work for years” — Esteban Ocon on dragging the Alpine to P12 in F1 Imola GP

Photo Credit: BWT Alpine F1 Team
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For the third time in a row this season, the two Alpine drivers made it through to Q2. Esteban Ocon, despite struggling throughout the weekend with his car, managed to qualify 12th, just 0.2s behind Sergio Perez’s Red Bull.

Alpine has had a tough start to the season, scoring only one point after Ocon finished tenth in the Miami Grand Prix. However, the gains made with their China upgrade is seen as a positive sign by the French team.

Reflecting on his weekend so far, Ocon expressed how tricky it has been, going into deep insight on it.

He was 0.356s slower than teammate Gasly in Q1 but managed to find almost half a second in Q2 to beat Stroll, Albon and his teammate.

“It was a tricky weekend, especially to start with, it was very difficult in terms with the ride and bouncing for us we had a lot of issues, not able to keep the wheels on the ground basically all the way through the lap.

“We kept the guys busy, every session we were changing something, and we really made use of the whole format, if that was a sprint weekend, we would’ve been struggling a lot.

“We got the car to a sensible state in qualifying. Unfotunately, it wasn’t perfect, we’re still missing a few [things].

“The axel being strong at one place, some understeer in others, some oversteer in others. Not perfect but better optimised, and only two-tenths off of Sergio, obviously, that’s quite positive.”

Looking ahead to Sunday’s race, he is hopeful that the the Enstone team would be able to fight for points if trouble strikes ahead for some of the faster teams.

“Tomorrow hopefully we can be in the fight to take the opportunities that come for us.
We won’t progress much more than what we did in Miami, I was expecting a more difficult performance in qualifying, looking at how far back we started the weekend.

“In a way I’m glad we managed to qualify the same as a Miami, because tomorrow we are in the good fight.

“Honestly, it wasn’t an easy weekend.”

Ocon admitted Saturday’s session was the toughest he’s faced in a few years, stating that tackling the Imola circuit is like trying to be a rally driver.

“That’s the hardest I’ve had to work for years. In 2021 I had a really good lap in qualifying, I remember driving super clean and feeling the grip.

“Here, there’s no finesse, it’s all forcing the car, trying to climb the kerb. but in a very bad way.

“It’s not a nice feeling, it’s not precise as it usually is in Formula 1, that’s more rallying we are doing now.”