Esteban Ocon insists that Renault-owned Alpine can continue to push forwards in Formula 1 even without two-time champion Fernando Alonso.
With 41-year-old Spaniard Alonso defecting to Aston Martin for 2023 and beyond, Ocon will soon be appointed a new teammate – believed to be fellow Frenchman Pierre Gasly.
That news could be forthcoming this weekend at Suzuka, including confirmation that Alpha Tauri will replace Gasly with Nyck de Vries for next year.
“It’s not something I’m paying much attention to,” Ocon told the Spanish sports newspaper Marca at an event for Alpine in Tokyo ahead of the Japanese GP.
“The main thing is to do my job, as before, which means leading the team in the development of the car and giving them my feedback. It’s what I’m already doing,” said the 26-year-old.
“Whoever comes will find that I am the most experienced driver in the team, I know the team better. But I also know that the team will choose the right teammate.”
Alonso slammed Alpine after last weekend’s Singapore GP for costing him 60 points in the drivers’ standings through reliability problems.
Ocon defended Alpine on that score.
“We don’t want it to happen obviously, but the whole grid has problems,” he said.
“It’s a fact that these regulations force you to take risks to have the most competitive car, which is after all the most important thing.
“However, we have been working on being more reliable and I think we are going in the right direction.”
The 26-year-old also thinks Alpine will continue to push in the right direction even without Alonso – one of the fastest and most experienced drivers in F1 history.
“For sure,” Ocon said. “I am really convinced that we can keep moving forward, as we are doing right now with Fernando in the team.
“Fernando is going to another team and we have to accept it – that’s how it is. But we know that we can achieve the goal that we have set for ourselves.
“I’m going to miss Fernando personally when he’s gone, but it will still be fun to keep racing against him.”