Esteban Ocon not sure if the Aston Martin is fast or if the chatter is the ‘Fernando effect’

Michelle Foster
Esteban Ocon laughing with Fernando Alonso. Canada June 2022

Esteban Ocon laughing with his Alpine team-mate Fernando Alonso. Canada June 2022

One of the most talked about teams in pre-season with their bold and aggressive AMR23, Esteban Ocon doesn’t know if it’s that Aston Martin that’s caught the attention, or the “Fernando effect”.

Alpine said farewell to Fernando Alonso at the end of last season, and while it seemed, barring his late-season engine reliability complaints, an amicable parting, there have been biting words of late.

Speaking at the launch of the Aston Martin AMR23, Alonso criticised a former team’s lack of ambition, although didn’t name Alpine in his comments.

“They finished fourth and they were happy with fourth,” he said. “They finished fifth and they were happy with fifth. If we were seventh, it was a celebration. Here there are no celebrations until we win and this is very appealing.”

His former team boss Otmar Szafnauer responded, saying: “I think when we did finish fourth, if you look back, he was as happy as everybody else who was part of the team.”

But while that’s been going on there’s a lot being said about Aston Martin’s new AMR23 and its Red Bull-esque design.

It’s arguably the car that created the most attention during the launches as, unlike many of its rivals, the car features a lot of differences to last year’s AMR22

“Everybody’s been talking about it,” Ocon told the media including PlanetF1.com. “I don’t know if it’s the Fernando effect, or that it’s going to be fast.

“But it looks like a very quick car from whenever you look at the aero side of things and from the outside, so it’s looking like a strong contender.

“But everyone’s going to work hard to close that gap as well. We’re not the only ones.

“We can’t underestimate the Aston Martin, McLaren, AlphaTauri, Sauber, all these guys because they’re also thinking the same things that we are doing now. ”

Asked if he was looking forward to fighting Alonso, he replied: “I’m looking forward to battling with everyone.”

PlanetF1.com recommends

Otmar Szafnauer bites back at Fernando Alonso’s ‘happy with fourth’ Alpine jab
F1 2023 pre-season testing guide: Schedule, driver line-ups and how to live stream
Why no team wants to be top of the timesheet in F1 pre-season testing

As for his own car, the A523, the Frenchman reckons this year’s Alpine is a “proper race car” after last year’s “toy”.

“I’m a very mechanical guy,” he explained, “I like to get close to the bodywork, and close to the suspension side of things, and have a look deeply into how parts are made.

“And if I have to be honest, 2022 kind of looked like a toy in comparison to what we have now..

“The level of details and how nice the parts are made in terms of weight saving, in terms of you know, solution in the cockpit and everything, everything looks like proper race car spec. It’s very impressive.

“The details in everything it’s very nice. That’s first good for reliability but second means that the team took a step up again. It was a step from ’21 to ’22 and now it’s a huge step again, in ’23.

“So we’ll see if that translates to performance, but already it is a step as far as I can see.”