Ocon: Alpine drop off in pace in Spanish GP 'significant'

© XPB 

Esteban Ocon was unable to mix it up with the front-runners in Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix after Alpine suffered a "significant" drop off in pace between qualifying and race day.

Ocon qualified P7 on Saturday, three spots behind teammate Pierre Gasly, a performance by the Alpine pair that augured well for Sunday's event.

Ocon gained a spot on the grid as a result of Gasly's demotion for impeding two drivers in qualifying and completed the first lap in fifth place where he remained until his first pitstop on lap 12 and his swap from the soft to the medium tyres.

Ocon's middle stint brought him back among the top ten where he held his own in seventh position even after his second and final tyre change on lap 35 of 66.

The Alpine charger spared for several laps with his former teammate Fernando Alonso but ended up conceding P7 to the Aston Martin driver, but only after putting up a solid defense.

"It was my only chance to try and keep him behind," commented Ocon on his short but tough battle with Alonso.

"He was too fast so I had to defend quite hard, but I backed off because I thought I would not be able to do it."

"For two laps I managed to keep in front but the pace we had today compared to qualifying had dropped off significantly and we were not as fast as Saturday as the good group in front, and that's what we need to work on and understand."

Ocon was coy on the reason for his A523's performance slump in race trim, but suggested that Alpine had a clear understanding of the issue.

"I think we know, yes, but making it change is going to be more tricky," he admitted.

"But what we have to remember from the last two weeks is that I've scored 19 points in two races. This is a weekend we can be extremely proud of, and we made a huge step forward in terms of car pace.

"And I'm sure we can keep that going and find an extra leg into the race."

After the euphoria of Ocon's podium in Monaco, Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer described the team's points haul in Barcelona as "minor".

But Alpine will definitely be aiming for higher positions in Montreal in two weeks.

"Of course, we are aiming for more than minor points – like last week in Monaco – but the performance of the car is solid and we’re taking the fight to those ahead," said the American.

"There are some things we must improve – small details to get right – and we look forward to racing in Canada later this month ready to keep battling for those higher positions."

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