Ocon uncovered: The truth behind Alpine’s F1 season of transition

Alpine, a team with championships in its blood, faced a year of significant transition in 2023. With the departure of veteran Fernando Alonso to Aston Martin and the introduction of Pierre Gasly amid management and ownership chaos, Alpine entered a new era, balancing legacy and change.

This season was a complex one for the Renault-linked team, mired in management changes and the high-profile sale of shares. This upheaval manifested in a tangible performance dip, with the team dropping from fourth overall in 2022 to a sixth-place finish after the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi recently.

Pat Fry’s departure from Alpine was a striking indicator of the internal challenges. The highly respected engineer voiced his concerns, saying, “I didn’t feel there was the enthusiasm or desire to progress” at the team’s Enstone and Viry headquarters.

In the midst of these trials, driver Esteban Ocon remained committed to the team’s growth. “Everyone is hungry for more, to continue improving, and that is what we are looking for,” Ocon stated to DAZN after the post-season finale test in Abu Dhabi, where he impressively clocked the quickest overall time.

“We keep working and I’m pretty sure good things will come,” Ocon added, showing his trust in the team’s ability to make strides during the off-season.

However, Alpine’s 2023 journey wasn’t just about internal changes; it was also marked by a contrast with teams like Alfa Romeo, which had a relatively understated season. Alpine’s year, in contrast, was defined by a mix of standout results, accidents, and a series of reliability failures.

Reflecting on his personal challenges, including retiring from seven grands prix due to technical issues, Ocon admitted, “I’m not very happy with the season, that’s clear,” having finished 12th overall, one place behind teammate Gasly. He recognized the setbacks but looked ahead optimistically: “Unfortunately, we were not consistent enough and we had too many retirements, which has obviously cost us a lot this season.

“Probably we could have been in the top ten of the drivers’ championship, perhaps also closer to the next place in the constructors’ championship. But that’s how things are.”

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