Alpine: Ocon "a significantly improved driver" in 2021

Esteban Ocon has become a "significantly improved driver" after working hard over the winter to build his confidence, according to Alpine Formula 1 co-chief Marcin Budkowski.

Alpine: Ocon "a significantly improved driver" in 2021

Ocon made his full-time return to F1 in 2020 with Renault's since-rebranded works squad, but struggled to match teammate Daniel Ricciardo's form through the year.

A run to second place at the Sakhir Grand Prix offered Ocon a late-season boost that has carried through to the 2021 campaign, where he has so far led Alpine's efforts.

Ocon qualified on the third row of the grid for the last two races in Portugal and Spain, and scored points in each of the last three rounds, recording a best finish of seventh at Portimao.

The Frenchman has also outqualified and beaten two-time world champion teammate Fernando Alonso in the last three races, leading Alpine's charge as it bids to join the upper-midfield fight with Ferrari and McLaren.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine F1 in the Press Conference

Esteban Ocon, Alpine F1 in the Press Conference

Photo by: FIA Pool

Ocon's performances and consistency this year have drawn praise from a number of paddock figures, with Alpine executive director Budkowski noting a step in performance from his driver compared to last year.

"He improved throughout last year, and he was getting closer and closer to Daniel in qualifying," Budkowski said of Ocon.

"Confidence is one thing - confidence in the team, confidence in himself. The podium did help.

"He did a lot of work during the winter. He is a significantly improved driver, and you can see it in the way he approaches the sessions.

"We made changes to his race engineering team, we changed his race engineer over the winter [Josh Peckett replaced Mark Slade in this role]. He's bonding better with his race engineer and his team overall.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A521

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A521

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

"That's great, because he can work in a much more constructive way than he was able to last year. And then it's confidence, it builds up, especially in these kind of qualifying burners.

"So if you have to put everything together and you need this kind of osmosis with the car and the team, this makes a difference."

After struggling in the opening two races of the season, Alpine managed to take a big step forward in performance over the Portugal and Spain weekends, appearing to comfortably run as the fifth-fastest team.

Budkowski was encouraged by the progress that Alpine had made after introducing a series of updates, believing the step forward in Spain was particularly significant.

"Honestly for me, it's more important than the Portugal one," Budkowski said.

Read Also:

"Portugal was great, because we were on the back of two disappointing races. There was pressure that we were putting on ourselves to perform.

"The beginning of the season wasn't up to our expectations, so it was great. It was great for the team, it was great for the drivers, it was great for Esteban. It was great for everybody to be there on third row in Portugal, but we knew the conditions were very tricky.

"We knew we improved the car. We wouldn't quite know how much we improved it. Barcelona not only is a benchmark in Formula 1, in terms of where your car is, it's also circuit that wasn't really our favourite in the last few years, and we were particularly poor here last year.

"So it's a combination of happiness and having confirmed and a bit of relief that actually the gains we're seeing are actually there, and we are making the progress we thought we were making."

shares
comments
Mazepin: I’m sure public opinion will change with better results

Previous article

Mazepin: I’m sure public opinion will change with better results

Next article

2021 F1 Monaco GP session timings and how to watch

2021 F1 Monaco GP session timings and how to watch
Load comments
Why the end is nigh for F1’s most dependable design tool Plus

Why the end is nigh for F1’s most dependable design tool

Windtunnel work forms the bedrock of aerodynamic development in Formula 1. But as PAT SYMONDS explains, advances in virtual research are signalling the end of these expensive and complicated relics

Formula 1
Jun 13, 2021
Why polarising Mosley’s legacy amounts to far more than tabloid rumour Plus

Why polarising Mosley’s legacy amounts to far more than tabloid rumour

The newspapers, naturally, lingered over Max Mosley’s tainted family history and niche sexual practices. But this is to trivialise the legacy of a big beast of motor racing politics. STUART CODLING weighs the life of a man whose work for safety on both road and track has saved hundreds of thousands of lives, but whose penchant for cruelty remains problematic and polarising

Formula 1
Jun 12, 2021
Why pragmatic Perez isn't fazed by no-nonsense Red Bull F1 culture Plus

Why pragmatic Perez isn't fazed by no-nonsense Red Bull F1 culture

Sergio Perez has spent most of his career labouring in Formula 1’s midfield, wondering whether he’d ever get another shot at the big time. Red Bull has handed him that chance and, although life at the top is tough, the Baku winner is doing all the right things to get on terms with Max Verstappen, says BEN ANDERSON

Formula 1
Jun 11, 2021
What the data tells us about the F1 2021 title fight Plus

What the data tells us about the F1 2021 title fight

Formula 1 has been tracking car performance using timing loops mounted every 200m around each circuit – to the extent that it was able to anticipate Ferrari’s 'surprise’ pole in Monaco. PAT SYMONDS explains what this means for this season and beyond

Formula 1
Jun 10, 2021
The weighty issue F1 needs to find a balance with Plus

The weighty issue F1 needs to find a balance with

OPINION: After consecutive street races with contrasting highlights, one theme stood out which has become a prevalent issue with modern Formula 1 cars. But is there a way to solve it or, at least, reach a happy middle ground to help all parties?

Formula 1
Jun 10, 2021
The changes behind a ‘feel-good’ F1 result in Baku Plus

The changes behind a ‘feel-good’ F1 result in Baku

OPINION: The Azerbaijan Grand Prix had elements that make Formula 1 really exciting – unpredictability and shock results. This resulted in heartbreak for several of the championship’s regular contenders and joy for others who rarely reach the ultimate limelight. And one of those on the Baku podium is riding a wave of form he’s keen to continue

Formula 1
Jun 9, 2021
The human cost to replacing Formula 1's cancelled rounds Plus

The human cost to replacing Formula 1's cancelled rounds

OPINION: With the global pandemic still lingering, Singapore's grand prix has been cancelled for 2021, with more looking likely to follow. Although Formula 1 has TV deals and profits to chase, retaining a 23-race calendar could be most harmful to those who sacrifice the most for the championship

Formula 1
Jun 8, 2021
Azerbaijan Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Azerbaijan Grand Prix Driver Ratings

An eventful weekend in Baku full of incident and drama lent the race result an unusual feel, as three drivers scored their first podiums of the year. But it wasn't the eventual race winner who scored top marks in our driver ratings

Formula 1
Jun 7, 2021