Ocon: No favouritism for Alonso at Alpine

Henry Valantine
Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso of Alpine Renault run alongside each other, Hungarian GP, August 2021.

Alpine drivers Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso run side by side at the end of the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Esteban Ocon says both drivers are treated equally at Alpine, with no sign of the team favouring the feedback of Fernando Alonso over himself.

The French driver became the 111th different grand prix winner in Formula 1 history after taking victory in Hungary, which took him one point ahead of his esteemed team-mate in the Drivers’ Championship.

It wouldn’t be fully unexpected, then, for the team to sub-consciously favour the experience of Alonso in developing the car, but Ocon says that’s not the case.

“I don’t feel that one side of the garage is preferred to the other,” Ocon said, quoted by Auto Motor und Sport. “The team trusts me, even in difficult times. I am very grateful for that.

“I don’t see any difference from the start of the season. The engineers listen to me. It’s not like Fernando’s feedback and mine are completely opposite, and one wants something completely different from the car than the other.

“If that were the case, the team would build two parts. That’s the philosophy.”

Ocon initially had the better of Alonso in the early races of the season, but the Spaniard has since brought himself on terms with the Frenchman – out-performing him on several occasions leading up to Hungary.

But with the double World Champion’s credentials and outright speed, the 24-year-old said he would be “stupid” to not take note of his team-mate’s approach.

“[Alonso] wasn’t happy with the power steering in the beginning. That’s when he tried different versions,” Ocon explained.

“He has such a wealth of experience. It would be stupid of me to ignore that. I tried some things that he had changed. Some things helped me, some things didn’t.”

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Having previously been a Mercedes junior driver, Ocon took the step to leave that setup and become a Renault driver last season, with an opportunity to take a Mercedes seat not forthcoming.

Alongside being out of the sport for a year, it would have been easy for Ocon to give up on his aspirations – but he kept the faith and has now been rewarded by joining the select club of Formula 1 race winners.

“When things go wrong, of course you question yourself,” Ocon said. “But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my career, it’s that you always have to trust yourself.

“I tried different lines, played with the brakes, but the lap time just wouldn’t be there. Something had to be wrong.

“In moments like that you have to work together as a team, turn over every stone and find solutions. It was a big relief to recognise my old car again at Silverstone.”