Alpine’s Esteban Ocon is “happy to be back in the points” after finishing eighth at 2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix, following a run of one point from the four previous races.
Ocon enjoyed a morale-boosting weekend after finishing every session at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace within the top ten, as he started and finished the 2021 Sao Paulo GP in eighth place to end a run of just one point in the four races prior to this race weekend.
Reflecting on how he is “happy to be back in the points” following a “very busy” race, Ocon said: “Today was all about our strong teamwork between all of us. We tried to maximise everything the best we could, and we pushed everything to the limit both from a performance and tactical point of view.
When Gasly pitted for the second time, I gave the place to Fernando to see if we could hold him behind by giving me a tow. It worked for a couple of laps, but it was not enough in the end and Fernando returned the place.”
With Ocon’s teammate – Fernando Alonso finishing ninth, Alpine now sit fifth on countback from AlphaTauri despite both teams being tied on 112 points apiece.
Ocon though iterated that anything can happen within the final three races with two new races in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, as he added: “It’s still tight, we head to two unknown tracks next and we’ll keep pushing as much as we can to hold onto this position.”
Alonso echoed Ocon in that he too was “happy” with his result after recovering from 12th on the grid to finish ninth, despite enduring a tough start to the race but “good pace” helped the Spaniard on his one-stop strategy.
Discussing how his race unfolded despite finishing one lap down on race winner, Lewis Hamilton, Alonso said: “The start and the restart didn’t play to our hands but then we had really good pace once it all settled down.
We were a little unlucky with the Virtual Safety Car that happened, as we weren’t able to box and, in the end, we did lose some time with that. Once we were back out our pace was strong.
We only chose to stop once and despite some teamwork to try and stop Pierre (Gasly) from the overtake, we weren’t able to hold him off.”
Chief Executive Officer, Laurent Rossi meanwhile was “very pleased” with how the race unfolded in front of “an electric Brazilian crowd.”
Rossi also defended his decision to stick both drivers on a one-stop strategy as he explained: “After Gasly’s second pit-stop, we opted to stick to a one-stop strategy and defend as best as we could from him. First, Esteban allowed Fernando to pass in order to create a tow with the aim of keeping Gasly behind.
“While this worked for a handful of laps, ultimately, with the tyre advantage he had, we weren’t able to hold out. Fernando returned the position on the last lap to Esteban underlining both drivers’ impressive team spirit to help each other and, in parallel, drive the team forwards.”
Rossi also commented on the prospect of Qatar next weekend as he described their task as “heading into the relatively unknown, but that’s an exciting challenge,” as Alpine look to secure fifth in the constructors’ standings.