RACE DEBRIEF

    Esteban Ocon got Alpine off the mark with a ninth-place result at Imola – followed by Fernando Alonso one place behind him – and the young Frenchman said battles with his team mate were the highlight of his Sunday.

    Shrugging off a collision with Sergio Perez in Friday practice, Ocon began the race from P9 on full wet tyres along with three other drivers, a decision that didn’t pay off as the track quickly dried. He pitted for intermediates during the Lap 1 Safety Car brought out for Nicholas Latifi’s retirement, and recovered from P14 to P10 at the flag – only to be promoted a place as Kimi Raikkonen was handed a 30-second post-race penalty.

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    The former Force India driver said he wasn’t overly delighted with a P10 finish, but enjoyed battling with the two-time champion in the other Alpine as Alonso finished just 0.85s behind him at the flag.

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    “We had good fights together with Fernando – it was good fun. I feel like there was potentially more on the table today; the pace was good inside the Top 10,” he said.

    “We could probably have done P7, P8, get in that group, but you know that’s how it is today. We get the reward with one point and will get more with the next one.”

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    While rain is said to be the great leveller, Ocon said he would have preferred a dry race to fully exploit the pace of his Alpine A521 – with the team having brought significant upgrades (detailed in the video above) to improve their car at Imola.

    “I think on the dry, it was performing quite well. That’s why I said the opportunities for P7, P8 were there definitely, today.

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    Alpine sit two points behind Aston Martin in the standings heading to Portugal

    “If it had been a straightforward race in the dry it would have been a different story, but that’s not where we ended up today, so we need to keep working,” he explained.

    Alpine took their first points of the campaign at Imola, after retirement for Alonso and a P14 finish for Ocon in Bahrain saw them leave the season-opener empty handed.

    But with a looming European double-header beginning with the Portuguese Grand Prix, the team formerly known as Renault sit seventh in the standings behind Aston Martin.