It has been an impressive start of the season so far for Esteban Ocon, with the French driver outscoring his teammate Fernando Alonso and putting his A521 in the points in almost all the races, except in the Bahrain GP, during the which he was involved in a crash with Sebastian Vettel and ended his race in P13.
Ocon said in an interview to Motorsport.com that a key factor in his improved performances has been his team's support, and especially his new race engineer Josh Peckett, who had already worked with part of his staff in 2016, when he was debuting in F1 with Manor:
"I also have Stuart Barlow as my performance [engineer]. and they've been basically forming that duo back in the Manor days as well. We were working kind of together. They were on Pascal Wehrlein's side back in the day, but they are complementing each other."
His team's attitude and focus towards their shared goal is motivating for the French driver, and something that was lacking in his previous experiences:
"We are making an excellent team altogether, which is motivated, young, and hungry for the same aim as we have, which is performing, extracting, and doing the best we can with what we have in hands. I am very pleased of what we are building at the moment, because this is what I wanted for a long time."
His 2021 approach was complimented by Alpine's executive director Marcin Budkowski, who said he has "significantly improved" comparing to his previous season, and fueling the rumours of talks for a contract extension for the upcoming season.
While his full time return in the championship had been difficult at first, Ocon ended 2020 on an high note with his first podium in the Sakhir Grand Prix and managing to reduce the gap to his teammate Daniel Ricciardo as the season went on.
The Alpine driver said that he feels "more confident" and at ease with his car this year: "I feel like we are setting up the car a lot better, and I've gained a huge amount of performance with that."
He added that he began to feel more accustomed to the car in the last rounds of the season, and that him and his team worked hard in order to carry over the good feelings he had while driving:
"But we started to get that into the last events last year. And I outqualified Daniel in Abu Dhabi, also. So it started to come on the right way towards the end of the year with the podium. It started to be quite nice towards the end of year, but we've continued that for the winter, and we've continued that overall in the beginning of the year."
Ocon concluded that at the moment, all their group effort is paying off and that he hopes he can keep on getting the best performances possible out of his car: "It's working well at the moment. So I feel good at the moment. I think we're extracting close to the maximum of the car each weekend. And I want to continue like that."