Esteban Ocon has said that only Lewis Hamilton can claim to have performed better as Fernando Alonso’s team-mate than he has.
Since Alonso’s return to Formula 1, he and Ocon have gone on to form one of the most supportive team-mate relationships on the grid, something that was not a given when the two-time World Champion’s move was first announced.
In the immediate aftermath of Ocon’s shock win in Hungary last year, he found himself being lifted into the air by Alonso whose excellent defence against Hamilton had all but ensured the Frenchman the victory.
But, as that partnership nears its end with Alonso’s impending move to Aston Martin, it is worth looking back to when Alonso was first announced and the dire predications that were made for Ocon’s career.
Many thought he would be dramatically outperformed by Alonso and that it could even spell the end of his F1 career but that has not been the case. In 2021, Ocon finished just seven points behind Alonso and in 2021, he is seven points ahead.
Looking back, Ocon told the Italian edition of Motorsport.com that after all the suggestions that his F1 career was nearing its end, he is “still here.”
“It is a nice comparison what we started last year both in qualifying and in the race,” he said. “Fernando is very, very fast, I don’t think he has anything to prove to anyone, and to those who say ‘who knows how much you learned with Fernando’ I answer ‘of course’, but I hope he too has learned something from me ”.
“We have a good relationship, we are similar in the development work and obviously when we are on the track each of us wants to prevail.”
— Esteban Ocon (@OconEsteban) September 16, 2022
Throughout Alonso’s 18-season career, he has regularly outperformed his team-mates with just one driver proving the exception, seven-time World Champion Hamilton. Ocon highlighted that fact and said that he is next in line behind the current Mercedes driver.
“It’s a good question,” he replies when asked if he has earned the esteem of the paddock as he nears the end of his fifth full season in the sport.
“I don’t read everything that is said about me, I hope that when I do something good it is reported as such, and that those watching can get an idea.
“But it’s true that there are some people who tell me ‘ah, I didn’t notice your qualification at Spa’, or ‘I forgot you won last year’.
“I admit I find it a bit strange, in the end in qualifying in the comparison with Fernando we are 9 to 7 for him, but I have a few more points in the classification.
“Last year, if we talk about qualifying, we finished the season tied: 11 to 11. If I look at Fernando’s career, the only one of his team-mates who has been his equal is Lewis, all the others have not done better than me.
“Personally I feel I’m doing a good job, and yes, it’s a bit strange sometimes to see that on the outside there are those who perceive it a bit differently.”
With six races to go, Ocon and Alonso face the task of retaining Alpine’s P4 spot in the Constructors’ Championship with McLaren now 18 points behind.