F1 | Ocon | "We don't have any margin" in battle for F1 points
Esteban Ocon has made clear that his Alpine team has ‘no margin’ for error in the battle for World Championship points.
Fernando Alonso’s F1 return has had an interesting impact on his teammate Esteban Ocon. Although the two-time F1 Drivers’ Champion has filled a lot of the column inches, thereby reducing the space for the Frenchman in the media, there is no doubt that Alonso is the benchmark which Ocon will be measured against. As much as Esteban Ocon knows he has a fight on his hands with matching his illustrious teammate, he has also announced recently that he also knows the battle between manufacturers will be just as closely fought. As such, Ocon has made clear that his Alpine team has ‘no margin’ for error in the battle for World Championship points.
In an interview published on motorsport.com, Esteban Ocon revealed that he believes the close nature of competing manufacturers within the midfield of the F1 grid means that his Alpine team must be close to perfect. The main area to address is where the team starts the race so as to ensure there are less cars requiring overtaking maneuvers.
"It is clear that what hurt us is the starting position," said Ocon. "If we were starting inside the top 10, of course you are already inside the points, but even 11th or 12th there would have been a chance for us to get into the points.
Esteban Ocon started the 2021 season-opener down in 16th position and as usual the further back you are the more chance of being involved in incidents on the opening lap. This indeed was the case as due to the Nikita Mazepin crashed out at the start and the race was neutralized early on – there was no chance for the Frenchman to make his moves early on his A521.
"We don't have any margin and we need to extract the maximum out of the car to be able to do that.
"We have clear ways of seeing where we are lacking a little bit of performance or where we have an area to improve. We know where it is, it is up to us to find that and find more pace for the next events so that gives us a bit more of a margin."
The inconsistency of the ability of the A521 to perform is clear to see.
Despite being powered by Renault’s best engine for several years, there is no doubting the performance loss which comes from the chassis. Alpine is another one of the teams that feels disadvantaged by the regulation changes which have been brought in for 2021:
"Of course the new rules have changed a lot of things," Ocon stated. "As everybody says, it is a year that we keep the same rules and carry-over from last year, but this is not the reality.
"In fact, most of the car is new for everybody. For us for sure as we know what we have on the car. Everybody lost a good amount of grip and downforce and everybody is trying to get that back on the cars.
"At the moment with the new rules everybody is slower and we are as well compared to the car we had last year so we know where to find the time and we know where to recover that laptime.
"The part of spotting where it is, that is now done, now we have to do it."
Alpine’s season-opening race in Bahrain was not one to be remembered fondly. An infamous sandwich wrapper caused a retirement for the impressive Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon could only cross the line in a disappointing 13th place.