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Ocon: Racing F1 rivals showed Alpine weaknesses

Esteban Ocon says racing his Formula 1 rivals in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix helped his Alpine team spot where to improve its 2024 car.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-24, Yuki Tsunoda, RB F1 Team VCARB 01, Esteban Ocon, Alpine A524

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The opening two rounds of the season in Bahrain and Jeddah confirmed what pre-season testing had suggested, as Alpine struggled at the back of the field with the slowest car.

In the latter race, from 17th on the grid, Ocon passed Sauber's Valtteri Bottas at the start and, after the safety car period, he ran in the group delayed by Kevin Magnussen which also included Yuki Tsunoda and Alex Albon.

Ocon eventually finished 12th, but denied any suggestion that the result indicated real progress on Alpine's part, and suggested that only "opportunistic" circumstances had put him in a group of faster cars.

"I think an opportunistic race, that's how we should call it," Ocon said. "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.

"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."

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-24, Esteban Ocon, Alpine A524

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-24, Esteban Ocon, Alpine A524

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

He added: "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."

Ocon stressed that despite the respectable improvement on his grid position in Jeddah, he didn't feel that he could compete with other cars.

"I couldn't really fight," he said. "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."

Ocon also downplayed Magnussen's blocking tactics, while admitting that they helped him to run in the chasing group.

Haas driver Magnussen slowed down the group of cars behind him to create a pitstop gap for team-mate Nico Hulkenberg up ahead.

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"It was tough racing," Ocon said. "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.

"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."

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