Esteban Ocon has praised Alpine for delivering a positive 2021 Formula One season in which he claimed his maiden F1 victory in Hungary.
After spending 2019 on the sidelines as Mercedes’ Reserve Driver, Ocon returned to a full-time seat with Renault in 2020 where he enjoyed positive progress which culminated in a maiden podium in the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix.
Ocon has since kicked on in 2021 with just one non-points finish in the opening five races, which he put down to having rediscovered his “rhythm of Formula 1,” across the Coronavirus pandemic hit 2020 season.
A rut in form however followed between Azerbaijan and Austrian Grands Prix but Ocon felt ” very encouraged by how the team and I reacted, to dig deep and find the solution.”
Ocon however hit back with a solid run of consistency in the last 13 races of the season with victory in Hungary as he finished 11th with 74 points, which marked his best championship performance since he finished 8th in 2017 with 87 points for Force India.
Alpine meanwhile finished fifth in the Constructors’ standings for a second consecutive season after fending off AlphaTauri for much of the season.
Reflecting on the season as a whole, Ocon said: “I felt we worked well as a team all season from the engineers, mechanics, both factories and of course with Fernando on-track.
“That consistency and togetherness is definitely what helped us achieve fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship.
“We were not the fifth fastest car every week, but we were up there in terms of extracting everything from our package and that is what we can be pleased about when reflecting on this season.”
Ocon also shared his favourite moment of the year which he undoubtedly admitted was his first F1 victory in Budapest, Hungary, after fending off Sebastian Vettel following a crazy start featuring a red flag and bizarre restart.
Explaining why he felt that win was his stand-out highlight, Ocon commented: “It really was something fantastic and I look back at it with immense pride. The way the race unfolded was so unique.
“I always like driving in the rain and when it is wet, I feel like I can be there to take any chance that comes up. On that day, the opportunity was there, and we took it!”
The 25 year-old though is hopeful that win won’t be his last as he is targeting more victories next season with a long-term aim to fight for the drivers’ title.
Fernando Alonso meanwhile made his return to F1 this season after a two-year sabbatical with the Spaniard’s best finish coming in Qatar, where he finished third on F1’s first-ever trip to Losail International Circuit.
Reflecting on his first season back in F1, Alonso felt that the campaign had been “enjoyable” as he reunited with Alpine (formerly known as Renault), as he described his season as “very consistent” after executing excellent race weekends despite mixed feelings about the car.
Alonso though believe that the whole effort of the team in 2021 is crucial heading into next season, as he added: “The win and the podium were obviously big moments for the team, and it’s results like this that will help us build towards a more competitive year in 2022.
“We have all of the ingredients in place at Enstone and in Viry and I am already looking forward to next year.”
The two-time champion meanwhile was selfless in his favourite moment as he chose Ocon’s win in Hungary, especially because of it being where Alonso’s first F1 win came back in 2003 for the team despite not expecting a podium at the start of that weekend.
Alonso added that his podium finish in Qatar just “was a nice moment” after not standing on a F1 podium since the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix for Ferrari that season.