Alpine drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly scored their first double-points finish as team mates at Sunday’s race in Saudi Arabia. And while they were happy with the result, the French pair left Jeddah with mixed feelings following what both described as a lonely race.
Ocon, on the medium tyre, made a solid start from sixth on the grid, maintaining the position before the charging Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, on the softs, came past on Lap 13, with Max Verstappen overtaking the French racer just a lap later.
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Ocon pitted for the hard tyre just before the Safety Car – caused by Lance Stroll stopping on track – dropping him down to ninth behind Yuki Tsunoda. While he made his way past the AlphaTauri driver for P8, he could not close the gap to Leclerc ahead, although he did manage to pull away from the cars behind him.
Reflecting on his eighth place finish, Ocon said: “A little bit lonely, but that was the maximum we could have done today really. We were not fast enough to be able to hold on to the Ferraris in front. We thought we could at the moment, but they pulled away.
“From there, we managed the pace and tried to bring the cars back home, and that’s what we did,” added Ocon, who endured a messy, penalty-ridden first race of the season in Bahrain. “Double-points finish, happy with that. Happy to finally start my season in a no-issue way, a free race. It’s been solid and hopefully we can catch the cars in front for the next one because it was a bit lonely.”
Ocon: P8 and P9 for Alpine ‘the maximum we could have done today’
Ocon was also keen to point to the development battle that the teams will go through this season, as he hopes the upgrades Alpine plan to bring down the line to the A523 can give them the performance to challenge the teams ahead.
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“I think it is still early days in the season and I don’t want to comment too much on that,” said Ocon, when asked whether the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix showed where Alpine lie in the current grid hierarchy.
“Through the season there is going to be a big development race and that is what we need to focus on to try and catch the cars in front, because at the moment we are not where we want to be.”
Gasly, on the other hand, started and ended the evening in ninth. And while he was keen to take the positives from his second race weekend with the team, he admitted that there were a few negatives, including the gap to their rivals ahead.
“I think overall, there is definitely some positives from the race. Second race with the team, second time in the points, so we will take that,” said Gasly.
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“On the other hand, I expected us to be slightly closer to the guys ahead. We were in sort of in no-man’s land behind the Ferraris and in front of the guy in P10 behind us. We definitely want more, so we have to work.
“And on my side, there was times in the weekend where I felt a bit better with the car, some other times where I struggled a bit more. We will analyse everything, second race with the team, so slowly we will get to where we want to be,” Gasly concluded.