For the Alpine F1 Team this weekends French Grand Prix marks the first home grand prix for the Alpine name in Formula 1, as well as a return home for Esteban Ocon.
Despite being based in the UK, Alpine are a French manufacturer making this weekend’s race at Circuit Paul Ricard, an important one to the team. For Frenchman Ocon it is a long overdue return home, after the French Grand Prix being cancelled last year and then the Frenchman not having a seat in 2019.
Ocon is very excited to be racing back on home soil.
“It feels like so long ago since I lined up for my home Grand Prix in France, so I’m very much ready and looking forward to doing that once again this weekend. Obviously, I wasn’t racing in 2019 and, last year, there wasn’t a French Grand Prix, so I definitely have extra motivation and energy coming into this race.”
“I think everyone in the team is desperate for a good race on home soil, and we’ll be working hard to do just that. It’s the south of France, nice weather, fans in the grandstands and the fastest cars in the world…I can’t wait!”
Ocon has some fond memories of this weekends venue, with it being the place where he took his first ever win in single seaters, back in 2013. Ocon will be determined to finish well in the points to give something special back to the French fans in attendance.
“It’s a track I like actually, and I have some nice memories there. It’s where I had my first win in single seaters in the 2013 Formula Renault Eurocup, so that’s something I’ll always remember. I’ve driven a lot of laps there for various tests in previous roles and, I was even at Circuit Paul Ricard earlier this year in the 2018 car to prepare for the season.”
“A lap is pretty intense with some fast corner combinations and some high-speed sections. There are some opportunities to overtake too, mainly into the back chicane, so I’m sure it’ll be a good event for the fans to watch. We’ll be giving it our maximum and pushing for points.”
“Hopefully we can put on a show for the fans” – Alonso
For veteran Fernando Alonso, this weekend may prove to be a challenging one, the Spaniard has only raced at Paul Ricard once in his long Formula One career, so will have some early learning to do in free practice.
Alonso is expecting the circuit to be a lot of fun in the 2021 cars as he hopes to put on a spectacle for the fans in attendance. Around 15,000 fans will be allowed into the venue each day across the weekend, Alonso will be hoping that the fans get behind the French team.
“I always enjoy racing in France. I’ve had some good results in Formula 1 and in other motorsport categories in this country, but Circuit Paul Ricard is actually a track I don’t know so well as I’ve only raced here once in Formula 1. The track has been resurfaced with some small tweaks to help improve the racing, so we’ll assess that early in the weekend.”
“The circuit has quite a few high-speed sections and Turn 10 will be fun in these modern Formula 1 cars. There are quite a few runoff areas around the circuit which means any mistakes are less likely to punished by barriers either side of you. This will be different to what we experienced at both Monaco and Baku and hopefully we can put on a show for the fans.”
Similar to Ocon, Alonso has great memories of racing in France, something he has done several times in his long career, his French highlights include winning at Magny-Cours in 2005 and of course winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans, he will be hoping for some more success this weekend.
“The win in 2005 at Magny-Cours was good for obvious reasons. We led the race from the start, and I was able to pit and come out still ahead of everyone. It was my fifth and Renault’s sixth win of the season and that momentum we carried through the rest of the year was pivotal in taking both championships. Winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice was also very special, and I won’t forget those memories. Let’s hope we can make some more memories at Circuit Paul Ricard this weekend.”