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Formula 1 Monaco GP

Permane: Alpine F1 challenger is not "a Monaco-special car”

Alpine Formula 1 sporting director Alan Permane says that the Alpine A523 is not "a Monaco-special car” and can be competitive at other tracks.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine F1 Team A523

Last weekend the team had its best weekend of the year as Esteban Ocon qualified third and Pierre Gasly seventh, and subsequently finished in the same positions.

Permane insisted the latest updates have helped to find performance and that Ocon’s result was achieved on merit, albeit helped by a grid penalty for Charles Leclerc that handed him a place.

Asked what he expected for the upcoming Spanish GP Permane insisted that the car will be just as competitive.

“More of the same, honestly,” he said. “This isn’t a Monaco-special car. It’s just that the upgrades we put on for Imola and then we had more here, the car is working well.

“I fully expect to be in front of Mercedes and be with Ferrari at the next race.

“I think Max [Verstappen] is too far away and when Checo [Perez] is on his day, he will be as well. And Fernando [Alonso] is going to be very difficult, but I don’t see why we can’t race with Mercedes and Ferrari, as we have done here and as we did in Miami.

“They were quicker than us ultimately [in Miami], but we were still in a race with them.”

However Permane conceded that the team hadn’t expected to go quite so well in Monaco.

“Honestly, not really,” he said. “If you go back to the last low-speed street circuit with low-speed corners – Baku – we had a nightmare. We started on the back foot there, and we don’t want to drag that back up again, but we knew the car was decent.

“It performed well in Melbourne, it performed reasonably in Jeddah, it performed well in Miami, so we knew we were in with a shout.

“I don’t think we were expecting a podium. We certainly were looking for a podium after qualifying.”

Esteban Ocon, Alpine F1 A523

Esteban Ocon, Alpine F1 A523

Photo by: Erik Junius

Ocon’s Monaco performance was built on solid progress from the first session onwards.

“We started off with a reasonable car on Friday morning and honestly, it’s one of those weekends where everything we did to it, from his feedback, just improved it a little bit,” said Permane.

“And obviously, he had a fantastic qualifying and that set it up from there. A little bit of help from Ferrari, of course, but it was a result completely on merit.”

Asked if Barcelona will give a better read on the latest package he said: “Monaco is, obviously, an outlier of a track, and while we’re happy to have done well here, we expect to do well in Barcelona, and it will give us a much better understanding of the car.

“We’ve got another little upgrade coming there, as we will at most tracks, so that will go on and we’ll be able to measure a little bit more accurately where the car is.”

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Permane denied a suggestion that hitherto the car has been erratic.

“I don’t think that’s true,” he said. “We are learning about it every week. It certainly wasn’t an easy car in Bahrain – we didn’t have an easy test or an easy race.

“It doesn’t feel erratic to us. The only erratic one was Baku, where we had an awful weekend, but it feels like we’re learning and understanding more about it all the time, and especially here.

“It’s not just in terms of balance, but in terms of ride, we were playing with that and tuning that and the drivers were happy with the progress that was being made.

“For me, it feels like we’re just making progress with it.”

Permane acknowledged that the Monaco result came at a good time after the recent criticism of the team’s performance by Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi.

“Baku was very difficult and I think I said after the race how difficult it was,” he noted. “We put our hands up and said we’d made mistakes and didn’t do a very good job.

“But we’re a strong team and we showed in Miami that we could bounce back, we showed here that we can be stronger.

“We’ll go to Barcelona with our heads held high and try to do the same again.”

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