Alpine car so far ‘feeling strong’ with more to come – Ocon

Esteban Ocon concluded a productive opening day of running in Jeddah with the fourth fastest lap, a performance which, coupled with Pierre Gasly’s P9, bodes well for Alpine.

After enduring a comedy of errors in Bahrain, marked by multiple – and somewhat incomprehensible – penalties that destroyed his race, Ocon is looking to kick his season into gear in earnest in Saudi Arabia.

And based on Alpine’s form on Friday, Ocon’s weekend is off to a flying start.

“It’s nice to come back to a track like Jeddah as it’s a really fast and thrilling street circuit, which forces everyone to be on their toes at all times,” he said after clocking in just 0.436s adrift from the session’s pace setter Max Verstappen.

“Our Friday was productive where we tried different things, which will help us in both qualifying and race conditions.

“So far, the car feels strong, and I think there is more we can extract ahead of tomorrow evening’s qualifying.

“The team did a great job today to get through the programme and we will be working hard tonight to be in a good place for tomorrow. All in all, it’s been a good day at the office.”

  • 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Free Practice 2 – Results

Ahead of this weekend’s event, there was a general consensus that Jeddah’s very different characteristics compared to Bahrain would perhaps put in play teams that weren’t really in contention at Sakhir.

That is turning out to be the case for Alpine as chief technical officer Pat Fry noted.

“For us, it’s been interesting to see the car on a completely different circuit to what we’ve seen so far this year, as the characteristics here steer towards lower downforce with lots of high-speed corners,” said the Briton.

“We’re pleased with our work today with both drivers offering similar feedback on the directions to take on set-up, which leaves us in decent shape for the rest of the weekend. A solid start with more to come.”

On the back of his well-executed race in Bahrain where he charged from dead last on the grid to P9, Gasly echoed Ocon’s comments on the positive feeling generated by Alpine’s A523.

“After two weeks in Bahrain, it’s nice to be taking on a new track and a new challenge,” he said.

“It’s very high-speed here and there’s a lot you have to get right to be quick. The car feels good, we have a good idea on the set-up direction we want to take and there’s more to come from us this weekend.”

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