“He is a significantly improved driver”– Alpine speaks on Esteban Ocon’s rise in Formula 1 and this season’s aspirations with him.
Esteban Ocon is one of the bright prospects from Mercedes’ academy, who has managed to cement his position in Formula 1 and is apparently improving with every passing year.
Currently employed by Alpine and teamed up with F1 legend Fernando Alonso, Ocon has managed to impress people around him ever since he joined the outfit, including his team boss Marcin Budkowski.
“He improved throughout last year, and he was getting closer and closer to Daniel in qualifying,” Budkowski said of Ocon. Confidence is one thing – confidence in the team, confidence in himself. The podium did help.
“He did a lot of work during the winter. He is a significantly improved driver, and you can see it in the way he approaches the sessions. We made changes to his race engineering team, we changed his race engineer over the winter [Josh Peckett replaced Mark Slade in this role].”
“He’s bonding better with his race engineer and his team overall. That’s great because he can work in a much more constructive way than he was able to last year. And then it’s confidence, it builds up, especially in these kinds of qualifying burners.
“So if you have to put everything together and you need this kind of osmosis with the car and the team, this makes a difference.”
Alpine made a step up.
Despite a sluggish start in Bahrain, Alpine gave in impressive performances in Portugal and Spain, hinting that the French side is the fifth-fastest side in the competition.
“Honestly for me, it’s more important than the Portugal one,” Budkowski said. “Portugal was great because we were on the back of two disappointing races. There was the pressure that we were putting on ourselves to perform.
“The beginning of the season wasn’t up to our expectations, so it was great. It was great for the team; it was great for the drivers; it was great for Esteban. It was great for everybody to be there on the third row in Portugal, but we knew the conditions were very tricky.
“We knew we improved the car. We wouldn’t quite know how much we improved it. Barcelona not only is a benchmark in Formula 1 in terms of where your car is, but it’s also a circuit that wasn’t really our favourite in the last few years, and we were destitute here last year.”
“So it’s a combination of happiness and having confirmed and a bit of relief that actually the gains we’re seeing are actually there, and we are making the progress we thought we were making.”