Ocon: Alpine took “very noticeable” forward step with Spa F1 upgrade

Esteban Ocon has praised the “quite impressive” and “very noticeable” performance step taken by the Alpine Formula 1 team in time for last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523

Despite setting a pre-season target to retain fourth place in the 2023 constructors’ championship while closing the gap to Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes, the Enstone team has fallen to sixth behind midfield rivals McLaren and Aston Martin come the summer break.

Given the drop off, Alpine owner Renault Group has sought to replace company CEO Laurent Rossi while allowing team principal Otmar Szafnauer and sporting director Alan Permane to leave by mutual consent. Chief technical officer Pat Fry has also accepted an offer to head up the design department at Williams.

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Amid the turmoil, Pierre Gasly climbed from sixth to second place in the rain-affected Saturday sprint race at Spa, while Ocon rose from 14th to eighth in the full GP on Sunday.

This competitiveness prompted Ocon to say that Alpine had returned to its 2022 streak of bolting on upgrades and gaining an immediate hit rather than having to wait to fully evaluate and correlate the new parts like some other teams.

He said: “It’s very encouraging that each time we bring an update, the car seems to take a step forward.

“Clearly, I dedicate that [Sunday result] to Viry and Enstone, because it's really encouraging that what we bring to the track really makes us step forward.”

Alpine developed a new Spa-specification front wing and more permanent changes to the floor body - which features revised forward fences, ‘canoes ramps’ and smoother diffuser wall cut out to boost downforce - for Spa.

Asked to detail how they had improved the car, Ocon said: “The pace that we had on entry of corners and especially medium- to high- speed, looking at how low in downforce we were, it was quite impressive.

“Clearly, much more stability in the car, much more grip. It was very noticeable.”

Esteban Ocon, Alpine F1 Team

Esteban Ocon, Alpine F1 Team

Photo by: Michael Potts / Motorsport Images

Discussing Alpine returning to it 2022 upgrade strike rate success, Ocon continued: “It's always been a strength of ours. They just need to keep [arriving] more consistently, and I think we will be OK.”

Reviewing the first half of the season for the team, 2021 Hungarian GP winner Ocon said it was wrong to accuse Alpine of lacking consistency. Instead, it had to be accepted that other squads had won the development race.

He said: “People will call it that we did lack consistency, which is not really the case because the pace is what it is.

“It's just that the others have improved more in the middle. We kind of catch back now with the update that we bring, but we are not top-five anymore.

“We just need to improve more - it’s as simple as that. Keep bringing the updates.”

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