Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso were pleased to score double points in Portugal and happy that Alpine F1 Team are fighting alongside Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow and McLaren F1 Team after a disappointing start to 2021 season.
The newly re-branded team have had a difficult start to the campaign, scoring just three points in the opening two races. Yet, it was a promising showing in Portugal, as Ocon finished sixth to record their best result since moving away from the Renault name.
Ocon had an impressive qualifying session, progressing to Q3 before finishing sixth fastest ahead of both McLaren and Charles Leclerc.
That wasn’t a one-off either as the Frenchman enjoyed a fantastic race, although he lost ground to Lando Norris at the beginning, but he kept his calm and eased across the line for a season-best seventh place.
Unsurprisingly, Ocon was delighted with the result and believes the improved car can help them fight alongside McLaren and Ferrari.
“I’m very happy with the race today, and I think we achieved our maximum. Having both cars in the points shows our progress and also how we’ve had a strong weekend overall.
“Everyone in the team has contributed to this progress and, fighting with the Ferraris and McLarens shows we’ve improved the car and the package.”
F1 teams will make the short trip to Barcelona for Spanish Grand Prix as part of the first double-header of the season, and Alpine will want to maintain the momentum, with Ocon obviously aiming for more points.
“The overtakes today were very enjoyable! We want to keep the momentum going and score more points.
“We know next week will be different, but we aim to continue the progress, keep the level of speed and I’m looking forward to it.”
Fernando Alonso – “we’ve made a big step forwards, fighting with the likes of Ferrari”
His two-time world champion teammate was part of a great recovery drive in the AF21. Alonso failed to qualify for Q3 and had to start thirteenth and quickly dropped down to fifteenth on the opening lap in Portimao.
However, when the Spaniard pitted on lap 40, trading his Mediums to Hards, and he found a new breath of life, easing past Pierre Gasly, Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz Jr before comfortably finishing behind his team-mate.
Alonso has struggled since returning to the sport, but the Portuguese Grand Prix showed that the 39-year-old has still plenty to offer. The Spaniard was obviously pleased with the performance and believes that Alpine is slowly making progress on McLaren and Ferrari.
“It was a very good weekend in general. The car has performed well, and we’ve made a big step forwards, fighting with the likes of Ferrari and McLaren in the race, which is different to where we were in Bahrain and Imola.
“It was the first race weekend where I felt comfortable and could push the car hard. Well done to everyone in the team, I think the progression we’ve made is very good.”
The French-based team were impressive throughout the whole weekend in Portugal, regularly finishing inside the top five in practice, so it would have been disappointing to see Alonso failed to progress to Q3.
Despite making up the places and finishing in respectable eighth, the Spaniard felt it could have been an even better result if they had started further up the grid.
“I think it could have been even better for us had we started higher on the grid. Performance on Saturday will be the key for the next two races in Barcelona and Monaco, so I need to focus on maximising my one lap speed starting next weekend.”