Alpine enjoyed its most competitive weekend of the season last time out in Qatar with Fernando Alonso finishing third and Esteban Ocon in fifth.

Its big points haul has allowed Alpine to move 25 points clear of AlphaTauri in the race for fifth in the constructors’ championship with just two rounds to go.

Like many teams up and down the grid, Alpine is targeting 2022 as a big opportunity to return to the front of the F1 field with the major regulation overhaul and stricter budget cap expected to even things out.

Speaking after the race in Qatar, Ocon has seen a drastic change behind the scenes at the team.

“[There has been] huge, huge progress,” Ocon said. “Definitely since the beginning of the year and since last year. I see a team completely transformed, a team united and we have great pressure from the bosses. Laurent [Rossi] was here, Luca de Meo, they are competitors as much as we are. They are fully supportive behind us. 

“There’s such great vibes, there’s no negative stress inside the team and we are all pushing for the same direction. It’s definitely a perfect environment and we are also pushing the tactics to the maximum with Fernando on the track, doing great teamwork and that’s what we are showing on track, how basically the atmosphere is inside [the team] and that’s great. 

“We keep that going and the plan as Fernando says is to get the team up - the team ready for fighting for podiums and wins more often in the future. That’s why we are working so well at the moment whilst all of us work in the same direction - we all need to keep working.”

The Frenchman put Alpine’s competitiveness in Qatar down to optimising the car setup and having everything else “spot on”.

“The characteristics did suit the car pretty well so it was a very good surprise when we put the car down, how we felt the grip was working but not only that, I think we did an exceptionally good job at setting up the car, finding a little more things that we necessarily didn’t find in other places but little tricks here and there that made the difference this year to have more pace, we extract more pace out of the car,” Ocon explained.

“The tyre management, the strategy that we had in the race, everything was spot on pretty much. The only thing that was not ideal was my Q3 run - this is the only thing that I would call not being optimum on the weekend but the rest, to be fair, was very strong. 

“I think we will obviously have a lot of data to analyse and see why we were so competitive here. In general, I think we have made a step with the car, in terms of understanding and getting everything sorted for the track conditions.”