Ocon denies contract renewal is behind dip in form

Date published: July 10 2021 - Henry Valantine

Esteban Ocon

Esteban Ocon has said his “motivation has not changed” despite a slump in form after signing a three-year contract extension with Alpine.

Ocon’s performances in the early part of the season were rewarded by earning new contract, which was announced in the middle of June.

Since then, however, he has lagged behind Alpine team-mate Fernando Alonso and looked out of sorts in both races at the Red Bull Ring – qualifying P17 on both weekends, finishing P13 in the Styrian Grand Prix and clipping his right-front tyre on lap 1 of the Austrian Grand Prix, forcing him to retire.

Despite his lack of pace in recent races coinciding with the immediate weeks after securing his long-term future in F1, Ocon insisted he is not resting on his laurels.

“My motivation, if that’s what you mean, has not changed,” he said, quoted by Motorsport.com in Spain. “I’m very determined to do well and to do my best for the team.

“I’m working as hard as I was at the beginning of the season, I’m going to the factory as hard as I was before I signed the contract. It has nothing to do with the performance we have at the moment.

“There are still a few more days to think about it, to think about what we can do [to improve]. And yes, it’s time to reset as soon as we can, because obviously the deficit and the performance we had was not good enough this weekend and last weekend [in Austria].”

Esteban Ocon crash

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Ocon admitted himself that he is struggling to see where he is currently losing out to his double World Champion team-mate, having been a full seven tenths down on Alonso in qualifying in Austria – a gap heightened by the shortness of the lap at the Red Bull Ring.

Despite that, he hopes to be able to recover and reset his season from the British Grand Prix next weekend.

“We see some things, and we are seeing some deficit, but it’s difficult to pinpoint what exactly it is,” he said.

“We’ll start from scratch at Silverstone, change as many parts as we can on the car, and hopefully come back much stronger.

“Definitely being a second slower in the first stint [of qualifying] compared to Fernando, it’s too much. There’s definitely something that wasn’t working well, and that we need to understand.”

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