Alonso ‘a little bit proud’ to take points after poor Mexico qualifying, as Ocon survives Lap 1 mayhem

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - NOVEMBER 06: Esteban Ocon of France driving the (31) Alpine A521 Renault

Alpine may have only scored two points in the Mexico City Grand Prix, but both Fernando Alonso in P9 and Esteban Ocon in P13 declared themselves reasonably satisfied with their Sunday afternoons at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, given their lowly qualifying positions.

Life was always likely to be hard for Ocon after he opted to take a new Renault power unit, leaving him P19 on the grid. But that swap looked to have proved especially costly on Lap 1, as the Frenchman found himself sandwiched by Yuki Tsunoda and Mick Schumacher going into Turn 2 – only to miraculously emerge unscathed, as both his rivals were forced into retirement (see the video clip below).

READ MORE: Verstappen extends championship lead after jumping both Mercedes at the start to win in Mexico

Ocon ultimately finished in a lonely 13th place, regretting only that a lack of perfect execution may have prevented him reaching the points.

“For sure the start is one thing,” said Ocon. “But we knew it was going to be a difficult weekend with the engine penalty, starting from the back. But we fought really hard until the end.

“[The car] was performing pretty well in the race, which was encouraging. Of course we didn’t have the quali pace that we wanted, but we saved two points with Fernando this weekend, so all in all it’s not all negative.

2021 Mexico City Grand Prix: Esteban Ocon survives squeeze at start

“There was some good action, some good fighting with many different cars,“ added Ocon. “It didn’t go our way all the time. Maybe with a perfect race, we could have been in the points, but that’s how it is, we’ll be back at the next one… [and] we need to come back stronger in Brazil.”

Alonso, too, enjoyed a lively start to the race, the Spaniard showing incredible reflexes to avoid the spun Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas on Lap 1.

READ MORE: Mexico polesitter Bottas laments ‘very tricky’ afternoon after race-ruining first lap contact with Ricciardo

But after admitting that he had been “not proud” of his qualifying performance – which saw him get knocked out in Q1, ending up 16th before rival drivers’ penalties promoted him to P12 on the grid – Alonso said he’d at least made himself “a little bit proud” with his beautifully executed run to ninth.

“I’m happy,” said the two-time champ. “A well-executed race again for us. P9, a couple of points for the team after a difficult weekend; I think yesterday, we didn’t manage to put a lap together. I was not proud of my job yesterday, but I’m a little bit proud today of my driving and hopefully those points will help the team at the end of the year.

2021 Mexico City Grand Prix: Alonso weaves out of trouble during chaotic start

“It was messy,” added Alonso of the start, “because it’s not only one car facing towards you, it’s also the smoke and the poor visibility. We were a little bit close on the right side, but it was worse for [Daniel] Ricciardo [and] Bottas so we gained a couple of positions for free, so that was good.”

One downside for Alpine in Mexico was the fact that Pierre Gasly’s fourth place allowed AlphaTauri to draw level on points with the fifth-placed team, with four races remaining this season.

logo 2021Alpine and AlphaTauri both have 106 points

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