Esteban Ocon says his points finish at Imola was a “good reward” for Alpine, after a tough opening weekend of the season for the team in Bahrain.
The Frenchman’s weekend at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix got off to an inauspicious start, when former team-mate Sergio Perez collided with his A521 in FP1 on Friday – something for which Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko laid blame squarely with his own driver.
After that point, however, he appeared to have the measure of his two-time World Champion team-mate Fernando Alonso for the rest of the weekend.
He out-qualified the illustrious Spaniard and managed to hold him behind in the changing conditions at Imola, finishing a creditable P10 on the road before Kimi Raikkonen’s penalty saw him bumped up to ninth, getting his first points of the season on board in the process.
This result will be a welcome one for Ocon as, with drivers like Pierre Gasly being mooted as a possible candidate to be an Alpine driver in 2022, the time has come for the 24-year-old to take the fight to Alonso if he is to keep his seat in the sport beyond this season.
What a crazy race this was, very happy to score the first point of the season for @AlpineF1Team !😊 #EO31 pic.twitter.com/HmHJ8Xo1Eq
— Esteban Ocon (@OconEsteban) April 18, 2021
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“It’s good to have a point, definitely,” Ocon told Formula1.com after the race. “It’s a good reward for everyone. It hasn’t been a straightforward race, as much as it has been the rest of the weekend.
“I feel potentially we had more opportunities than that – P7, P8, we probably could have been in that group, so we’re going to push to score those points in the next races.
“I think in the dry, [the car] was performing quite well – that’s why I said the opportunities for P7 or P8 were there definitely today.
“If it was a straightforward race in the dry, it would have been a different story, but that’s not where we ended up today, so we need to keep working.”
The race was red-flagged after George Russell and Valtteri Bottas came to blows up towards Tamburello, making it a shortened sprint finish after the restart – which Ocon enjoyed on Sunday.
“It was a long, physical race and flat out right to the end after the restart,” he added via Alpine. “I had some fun fights out there, especially with Fernando. Now, we look forward to the next race weekend.”
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