Ocon happy to finally get season underway with 'strong weekend'

© XPB 

Esteban Ocon led a double points finish for Alpine in Saudi Arabia, the Frenchman concluding what he called a "strong weekend" overall with a run to P8 in Sunday's race.

Both Ocon and teammate Pierre Gasly qualified among the top ten on Saturday, the pair lining up respectively sixth and ninth on Sunday's grid.

But Ocon was especially eager to complete his race without any troubles, contrary to his nightmare debut in Bahrain two weeks earlier.

Relying on a medium-to-hard one stop strategy, the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix winner drove a consistent race but, sandwiched during his first stint between the two Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, Ocon was unable to fend off the attacks of the latter, let alone hold on to the former.

"I'm happy to finally start my season, let's call it that way, it was a strong weekend for us," Ocon said after the race. "For us, we maximised qualifying and the race as well.

"We couldn't hold [onto] the cars in front really, but we thought at some point it was going to be possible to hold the Ferraris, but they pulled away in that middle phase of the second stint.

"So we just managed the pace to bring the car back home.

"So, a strong weekend as a whole, but we need a little bit more to be able to catch the cars in front.

"That's exactly where we were [in the race], so hopefully, we understood plenty and can come back stronger in the next [race]."

Year over year Alpine has regressed slightly in the pecking order, although the Enstone squad's position especially reflects the massive step forward achieved by direct rival Aston Martin which has established itself as the second best team behind Red Bull.

But Ocon points to the Silverstone-based outfit as proof that significant progress is possible.

"We can't be satisfied with where we are at the moment," he said.

"There are a couple of teams that have improved massively over the winter, so it shows that is is possible and we need to keep fighting.

"We need to keep digging, to keep thinking, the atmosphere inside the team as well, but now, we can't be satisfied with where we finished."

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