After failing to score points in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Esteban Ocon says Alpine needs to extract the maximum from its 2021 Formula 1 car if it is to break into the top ten this season.

The Enstone-based outfit enjoyed a strong 2020 campaign, finishing fifth in the constructors’ championship with three podiums to its name.

Both Ocon and teammate Fernando Alonso failed to score points in Bahrain meaning it was the first time since 2008 at least one Renault-powered car didn’t score in an F1 grand prix.

The Frenchman only managed 16th in qualifying after encountering yellow flags on his final lap in Q1.

Reflecting on Alpine’s turn of speed in Bahrain, Ocon said a better starting position would have allowed him to challenge for points in the season-opener.

“I think if we started further up the road, I think we would be fighting for points, for sure,” Ocon said. “I fought with the Aston Martin of Vettel today and Lance finished in the points. We were fighting with those cars. It’s clear what hurt us was the starting position. 

“I think if we were starting inside the top ten, of course, you’re already in the points, but 11th or 12th, that would have been a chance for us to get into the points. But [only] just, clearly. We don’t have any margin, we clearly need to extract the maximum out of the car to do that. 

“We have clear ways of seeing where we are, lacking a little bit of performance or where we have an area to improve. We know where it is, it’s up to us to find that and find more pace for the next events. That gives us a bit more margin.”

While the 2021 cars have mostly been a carryover from 2020, Ocon believes the changes to the floor area have had a more profound effect than first anticipated. 

“Everyone says, it’s a year we keep the same rules, it’s a carryover from last year,” Ocon added. “This is not the reality in fact. In fact, most of the car is new for everybody, for us, for sure, we know what we have on the car. 

“Everybody lost a good amount of grip and downforce and everybody is trying to get that back on the car. For sure at the moment with those new rules, everybody is slower, we are as well compared to the car we had last year. 

“So we know where to find the time and we know where to recover the lap time. The part of spotting where it is, is done, now we have to do it.”

 

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