Fielding two drivers who spent time on F1’s sidelines, new Alpine racing director Davide Brivio feels Esteban Ocon has a slight “advantage” over Fernando Alonso.
This season Alonso is back on the Formula 1 grid, the Spaniard having re-signed with the team with whom he won his two World titles in 2005 and 2006.
It has been two years since last he raced in Formula 1, walking away from McLaren and the sport at the end of the 2018 season.
But while Alonso make need a moment or two to adjust, he can turn to his team-mate Ocon for tips on making a comeback as the Frenchman sat out the 2020 season.
Dropped by Racing Point, Ocon spent a year as Mercedes’ reserve driver before signing with Renault, now rebranded as Alpine.
Brivio reckons his year with the team will give Ocon a slight advantage.
“We have a very interesting combination of drivers, I like it,” he told Spanish daily, AS. “The two left F1 and both came back.
“Esteban has that year of an advantage with the team and the car, now we can see his real potential.
“With Fernando I see a fit driver, motivated. It is very positive for the team to have this type of driver who encourages everyone to give their best, because that is what he is going to give.
“That he returns to the most demanding races in the sport shows his motivation.
“Fernando will have good results and I expect the same from Esteban.”
Alonso’s return is, naturally, one of the headline stories of this season.
The double World Champion was tenth fastest in pre-season testing with a 1:30.318, eight-tenths up on Ocon’s best time.
With just three days of testing split between the two drivers, Brivio says the team focused more on set-up than peak performance.
“We are doing a good job in these three days,” he said, “with more than 100 laps for each driver and fulfilling the plan without incident.
“On Fernando, I saw him at the height of pace and speed. He had to do some of the boring work, testing set-ups and set-ups, and we didn’t go for peak performance.
“It was a matter of getting back in the car and testing the options it offers to be prepared for the race.
“We are in the same situation as the rest. It is our responsibility to give them a good package, although in these three days it is difficult to analyse the level of the others, we will need a couple of races for that.
“Esteban and Fernando will have to take advantage of the maximum potential of the car.”