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Ocon admits a “possibility” Alpine could be at back of F1 grid

Esteban Ocon has admitted it is a “possibility” Alpine could be at the back of the Formula 1 grid, amid suggestions the squad is struggling with its 2024 car.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A524

Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The French manufacturer is coming off the back of a challenging first test in Bahrain last week where the new A524 showed itself to be lacking in both handling and pace terms against the opposition.

While the team has been open about bracing itself for a tough start, some analysis from the testing data pointed to Alpine actually being slowest of all with how its current car is.

PLUS: Will Alpine really start at the back of F1 2024's pecking order?

Asked ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix if he was preparing himself for such a worst case scenario, Ocon said: “If things don't go to plan, obviously yes I'm prepared for that. But we haven't driven the car yet in full competition order.

“We don't know exactly. You guys [the media] are selling it [as] the worst. It is a possibility, because we haven't pulled it together with everyone else. But it's not over.

“There are still going to be things to play for this year. And I need to keep on pushing. Because if you start that low, and with how you guys are speaking, I can quit and just exit the paddock right now. But no, that's not who I am.”

Ocon’s team-mate Pierre Gasly has admitted that Alpine has missed targets with its new concept of car, but says the focus has to be on finding solutions rather than bemoaning where things are at.

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A524

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A524

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

“Yes, some targets have been missed in terms of timeline, but it still doesn't mean that we can't achieve them at some point along the season,” he said.

“As a competitive team, no-one is happy having a challenging start. This wasn't the idea. But this is now the situation that we are in and we are facing it together as a team.

“We’ve got to look forward and come up with the solutions because we know we have some solutions. Whether it's short term or medium term, at the minute, that's all I'm thinking about.

“There is an explanation of why we are here. At the end of the day, what matters right now, as of today, is how fast we're going to be able to improve that car we have.”

While it is believed that Alpine is battling the car being overweight as well as lacking overall downforce, Ocon suggested that there was one unidentified area that stood out.

“There is one bigger one than the others,” he said about the issues. “Most of the smaller problems we were able to fix in the three days of tests which has been good.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A524

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A524

Photo by: Erik Junius

“So we had a good feeling over a lap in the car, which nice to drive, basically in terms of balance. But we've yes identified the issue clearly, so that's what we're going to be chasing.”

Asked how long that would take to find a cure, Ocon said: “It’s going to take time. I'm sure there are quite a lot of things that we can still get better, but it will take time with the development of the car.”

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Speaking about how the car felt, Gasly added: “It's not easy to drive! But ultimately, I don't think the car itself or the behaviour itself is really the main issue, because it can be quite difficult to drive but still be competitive.

“At the end of the day you need the grip, you need the downforce. And we know that's what we are mainly missing at the minute.”

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