Esteban Ocon says he was happy to “save” Alpine’s weekend with a run to eighth place at the Belgian Grand Prix, a week that proved to be tumultuous for the Enstone-based squad.
On Friday, it was announced that both Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer and long-serving Sporting Director Alan Permane would no longer be a part of Alpine following the Belgian Grand Prix.
Chief Technical Officer Pat Fry was also announced as another departure, taking up a role at Williams.
The shake-up was the latest in a revolving door saga at Alpine that has seen F1 engine chief Bruno Famin promoted to vice president of Alpine Motorsports and Laurent Rossi replaced as Alpine CEO by Philippe Krief.
Putting the off-track distractions to one side however, was Ocon, who had plenty of positive takes from his performance at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday, despite losing out in an enjoyable battle with McLaren’s Lando Norris for seventh place.
“One more lap, one more lap. That’s what Lando could have said for many occasions when we raced together,” said the Frenchman, acknowledging prior battles with the McLaren ace.
“I enjoy the last lap battles with him all the time, it always seems to happen together. But not this time, unfortunately.”
Despite his battle with Norris not having the best outcome, Ocon was happy with how he and the team performed.
“[I’m] glad we saved our weekend in a way,” he said. “Friday, Saturday didn’t go to plan, we didn’t put everything together.
“But clearly that race, we could show the real pace of the car, and how it was working, and yeah, had some really good battles out there.”
A mistake in a weather-affected qualifying session on Friday meant Ocon started Sunday’s Grand Prix in 14th place.
But following battles with the likes of Norris, Yuki Tsunoda, Alex Albon, as well as his Alpine team-mate Pierre Gasly, Ocon was left confident Alpine had unlocked good pace thanks to recent upgrades and thanked those working back at base in Enstone and Viry for the result.
“What if it was a dry weekend on the rest? “Because I think we had clearly that pace in the race,” he said.
“It’s very encouraging that each time we bring an update, the car seems to take a step forward. Clearly, I dedicate that one to Viry and Enstone, because it’s really encouraging what we bring to the track really makes a step forward.”