Marcin Budkowski admitted it hurt to see Esteban Ocon lose third place on the run to the finish line in Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with the Frenchman being out-dragged by Valtteri Bottas.
The Alpine F1 Team driver was on course for his second trip to the podium in 2021 after his victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix, but despite resolute defending, he dropped behind the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver as the two drivers raced to the end.
Despite losing out on the podium, Alpine scored some good points towards the Constructors’ Championship in their battle for fifth place against Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda, even though Fernando Alonso missed out on finishing inside the top ten in the other A521.
Budkowski, the Executive Director at Alpine, says the decisions surrounding the pit stops after Mick Schumacher crashed – they opted not to pit Ocon but to bring in Alonso – dictated their races thereafter, but it was a good day overall for the team.
“Some good points today to consolidate fifth in the championship… but that result does hurt!” said Budkowski. “What a race from Esteban – he drove exceptionally well and only just got beaten by a much quicker car on the line.
“He had a very good start and gained two positions in the first lap, then kept the pace up until the first race interruption. We elected to stop Fernando during the Safety Car because we didn’t think it would turn into a red flag, and this compromised his race as he wasn’t in a position to get back into the points.
“We didn’t stop Esteban to preserve his good track position, which even turned into pole position at the second restart. He managed his race perfectly and really deserved a podium today. Losing it for a few metres is a bitter feeling, especially since after the race we discovered he had picked up some damage to his floor on lap 48, which cost him lap time, but to be disappointed with fourth shows how strong a race we had.
“After two very good races for the Team, we aim to finish on a high in Abu Dhabi.”