It was a day of contrasting fortunes at Alpine, as Fernando Alonso said his car “came alive” after his pit stop, while team-mate Esteban Ocon struggled at his home race.
Both Alpine cars had looked relatively competitive as they qualified P9 and P11 respectively, but while Alonso was able to make progress in the race, Ocon said his tyres degraded quickly and “went backwards”.
Alonso added that his confidence is increasing all the time after his return and, while he admitted the high tyre degradation was a shock to every driver, he managed to come home a creditable P8 in the team’s home race.
“It was tricky,” Alonso told reporters after the race. “The start was very good, recovered three or four places in the first corners but then the graining was bigger than what we thought, what we anticipated.
“We stopped a little bit too early and had slower pace, but with the hard tyres we came alive again. We were able to hold a good pace and P8 is good.
“We started ninth, we finished eighth so we executed our race but it was interesting – the high degradation was a surprise for everyone.”
After another flying start, Alonso added that his getaways have been one of his best qualities in his racing career and he doesn’t plan on giving up any ground on the first lap any time soon.
“It has been my strongest point for 20 years, so why not still now?!” Alonso said separately after the race.
“The starts are that moment in the race that you need to improvise a little bit, you need to be creative, there is no tyre performance, there is no car performance, it’s just yourself and your instinct, so I’m enjoying those kind of laps.
“Always the first lap has been a strong point and now I’m more comfortable with the car, with the start procedures, with the tyres as well.”
Bon départ. Bonne stratégie. Bons points. Je suis content. Nous continuons. Merci France. 🇫🇷@AlpineF1Team
— Fernando Alonso (@alo_oficial) June 20, 2021
Unfortunately for Alpine team-mate Ocon, he was not as buoyant after the French Grand Prix. Having run closely behind Alonso in the first stint, he could not make his hard tyres work in the same way and eventually came home P14 in the end.
“It was not a good race for us – not a positive weekend overall,” Ocon said. “I think we were clearly lacking something with the car today.
“The pace wasn’t great on either tyres, we degraded quite quickly and went backwards in the race.
“Not where we wanted [to finish] but that we have the chance to race again next week is good. I’m looking forward to changing that negative weekend into a good one for the next one.
“We need to understand what [the car’s issue] is exactly because that was hurting my race today, clearly.
“We had a strong start and from there on it just didn’t go our way.”