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Ocon and Gasly hail step in ‘right direction’ for Alpine after narrowly missing out on points in China

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 21: Esteban Ocon of France driving the (31) Alpine F1 A524 Renault leads

Alpine drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly were left encouraged by the team’s performance at the Chinese Grand Prix, with Ocon only just missing out on a top-10 result while running an upgrade package on the A524.

The Frenchman had started the race from P13 and looked to potentially be on course for a points result, before crossing the line in P11 after losing out by two and a half seconds to 10th-placed Nico Hulkenberg.

READ MORE: Verstappen charges to victory over Norris and Perez in action-packed Chinese GP

While Ocon was disappointed to leave the Shanghai International Circuit without a point – meaning that Alpine are yet to get off the mark in 2024 – he sounded a positive note about the direction that the team are going in following their tough start to the campaign.

“[I’m] happy in one way and not on the other one, because it’s been a really well-maximised two days I think on our side and we don’t get the rewards that we wanted to get,” Ocon reflected after the race.

“It’s our best finishing position of the season, but two and a half seconds away from that top 10. It would have been an amazing day if we were getting that. We are going to keep pushing from the next one, hopefully get in the points but, yeah, it’s a small step towards the right direction.”

Mixed feelings for Ocon after finishing ‘two-and-a-half second away from the top 10’ in China

Asked if it had felt like his season had just started after nearing the points battle in China, Ocon responded: “We will see, [it could be] a few weekends if that’s the case. I think there’s been a lot happening into that race as well, so let’s not give conclusions too quickly.”

Gasly, meanwhile, lined up in P15 for the race – having escaped the elimination zone of Q1 in qualifying for the first time this season – and managed to make up two places to end the day in P13.

HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the action from the Chinese Grand Prix as Verstappen takes victory while Safety Car sparks dramatic restart

While he admitted that it was bound to be a more challenging event for him without the updates that were solely being run on Ocon’s car in Shanghai, Gasly was also feeling more optimistic after seeing how those new parts had performed.

“It was always going to be a tricky weekend on my side without the upgrades,” he commented. “Esteban had the new floor and new chassis which worked well and [brought] us closer to the points, and even on my side [it] was more of a damage limitation weekend, trying to get everything out of any opportunities and that’s what we did actually.

Gasly brands Chinese GP ‘a step in the right direction’ for troubled Alpine

“We came 13th, quite close to Hulkenberg in P10, managed to get some nice overtakes and good battles on track. There’s still a few things to improve. I think [what’s] most important is the upgrades work, so it brings us a bit closer.

“There’s still a lot of work ahead of us, because we’re still not competitive enough, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.”

READ MORE: Ocon opens up on ‘fiery’ karting rivalry with Verstappen and why the Dutchman’s F1 debut was ‘tough to swallow’

Quizzed on how much attention he was paying to the data coming from Ocon’s car with the upgrade – which he will run himself next time out in Miami – Gasly said: “It was quite straightforward, it’s just lighter, a couple of kilos lighter, so [there is] weight reduction and also more downforce, more points of downforce on the car so more grip [in] low, medium, high-speed.

“So it’s not really a difference in terms of characteristics, it’s just more grip and lighter all around. It was just good to see it’s working obviously. On my side I’m looking forward to Miami and see what we can do with it.”

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