The Spanish GP important for the hopes of Alpine 2021
This weekend’s Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix is important for Alpine, according to Esteban Ocon.
The Anglo-French side had a slow start to the season before a decisive performance in Portugal last weekend.
Ocon and his teammate Fernando Alonso both scored points, the latter showing a particularly strong pace in the finals.
The race through 2021 was far from straightforward for Alpine, who underwent a rebranding ahead of the season.
An upheaval of the management also took place, Cyril Abiteboul having left for the benefit of a complicated configuration which sees the responsibility of the team shared between Marcin Budkowski, Davide Brivio and Laurent Rossi.
There have also been developmental dramas, with issues related to ground rule changes for the current campaign, and “hardware” issues in the team’s wind tunnel.
Speaking in Portugal, Budkowski suggested the team were weeks behind in development, but hoped the improvements at Portimao would allow them to regain some of that lost ground.
Indeed, with the Alpine, it’s a bit of a game for Ferrari, which was the fourth best team to date in 2021.
“I think the car in terms of balance was really nice to drive on a tricky track with very low grip,” Ocon explained of the Portuguese weekend.
“I think our stability was pretty good, from entering the corners to the middle of the turn.
“Everyone was struggling a bit in traction, but I think it gave us the confidence to push him into qualifying, and in the race it was working well.
This weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix sees the teams return to a place they know well.
Barcelona have traditionally been the home of pre-season testing, so chosen partly because of their stable climate, but also because the circuit itself offers a good mix of high, medium and low speed corners.
This familiarity often breeds processional races, but also highlights cars that run well.
As such, how Alpine updates work this weekend will be essential in Ocon’s eyes.
“If they translate here, I think it will be a good season for us,” he reasoned.
“It will be a very important weekend.”
The first signs are that the pace has extended this weekend, with Ocon fourth fastest in the qualifying simulations in Free Practice 2, behind Alonso.
The Spanish Grand Prix weekend continues with Free Practice 3 at 8:00 p.m. AEST tonight.