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‘It’s not a situation we are enjoying’ – Ocon reflects on morale at Alpine amid early season struggles

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JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 08: 17th placed qualifier Esteban Ocon of France and Alpine F1 talks

Esteban Ocon says that everyone at Alpine is “motivated” to make progress after the team endured a difficult start to the season, with the Frenchman acknowledging that nobody in the squad is “enjoying” the struggles they have been facing.

After opting for a bold new concept for their 2024 car, Alpine have yet to get to grips with the A524. Ocon and team mate Pierre Gasly qualified at the very back of the field at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, before going on to end the race in P17 and P18 respectively.

READ MORE: ‘Disappointing for everyone’ – Gasly reflects on ‘very difficult time’ for Alpine after early exit in Jeddah

Their fortunes did not improve much one week later in Saudi Arabia. Both drivers were again eliminated in Q1 of qualifying, and Gasly was forced to retire from the race almost immediately after reporting a gearbox issue on the formation lap, while Ocon finished the event in P13.

Speaking ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, Ocon admitted that the situation is challenging but explained how the team will continue to focus on understanding the problems with their car as they look to turn things around.

“We obviously know where we are,” said the one-time race winner. “It’s not a situation that we are enjoying as a team. I think none of us, in Viry or Enstone, is enjoying struggling that much in the weekends.

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 07: Esteban Ocon of France driving the (31) Alpine F1 A524 Renault on

It has been a challenging start to the 2024 season for Ocon and Alpine

“But it's a long season and obviously we are working towards trying to optimise the car, understand where our issues are and to turn things around hopefully. It's more simple to say than to make it, so until we make it, it's only words.

“But this is the aim that we have as a team, and we are not going to release the pressure on that until we get there. That's the aim out of everyone. The morale is good inside the team. Everyone's motivated and that's the most important at the moment.”

READ MORE: Jack Doohan to perform demo run at Australian Grand Prix with father Mick

Quizzed on what the biggest issue with the car is, Ocon responded: “There's a lot of small things that are not working the way we would like, but the field is so tight at the moment that details, in the end, if you have many that are not right, make a huge difference.

“I remember being that far off the grid with Manor, but nowadays it's a lot closer to the field. The field is a lot more compact from P1 to where we are and it's a very different way of sorting things out.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 21: Esteban Ocon of France and Alpine F1 greets fans on the Melbourne

Ocon is hopeful that Alpine can try to extract more from their car during the Australian Grand Prix weekend

“So, yeah, we will see where and how we progress through the year, but the aim is to progress.”

Alpine had a difficult end to their weekend when F1 last raced in Australia, with Ocon and Gasly colliding after a late restart during the 2023 event, resulting in both retiring just two laps from the end of the Grand Prix.

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Reflecting back on that ahead of this year’s visit to the Albert Park Circuit, Ocon commented: “I think it was a very interesting race. There was a lot of fighting going on, and I think we managed to climb back up almost to the points at some stage. It was a clean race.

“Not enough, unfortunately. We still have to work on the pace of the car and try to get it quicker. But yeah, an interesting race nonetheless, and looking forward to hopefully extract more out of the package here.”

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