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Ocon hails Alpine progress after team fight McLarens and Ferraris in Portugal

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Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A521.
Portuguese Grand Prix, Sunday 2nd May 2021. Portimao,

A second consecutive double-points haul for Alpine was the icing on the cake of a successful Portuguese Grand Prix for Esteban Ocon, and most of all he was thrilled to be battling midfield rivals Ferrari and McLaren – which sets the team up perfectly for team mate Fernando Alonso’s home race…

Alpine didn’t hit the ground running this season with a point-less display in Bahrain, but they bounced back at Imola and Portimao with back-to-back points scores for both of their drivers, Ocon and Alonso. At Portimao, Ocon finished seventh, just over a second ahead of Alonso – and the Frenchman said the fact he was able to fight with McLaren and Ferrari underlined Alpine’s solid development programme.

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“It’s always hard work – nothing’s easy in Formula 1 – but now we are pretty pleased with the weekend and how it went,” he said. “Two cars in the points as well, seventh and eighth for me and Fernando. We are fighting with Ferraris and McLarens. They were still a little bit too fast for us overall but it’s good progress, we have to keep going, and we will.”

Ocon and Alonso enjoyed overtaking moves on McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz on their way into the top 10 in Portugal, and now they have the Spanish Grand Prix up next. The French driver said he wanted Alpine to use this “momentum” to add to their points tally.

2021 Portuguese Grand Prix: Alonso charges past Ricciardo and Sainz

“We want to keep the momentum going and score more points. We know next week will be different, but we aim to continue the progress, keep the level of speed and I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

TECH TALK: A close look at the upgrades Alpine brought to Imola

Spain is, of course, Alonso’s home race and the two-time champion’s first Grand Prix at Barcelona since 2018 – where he finished a solid eighth for McLaren.

With Alpine 29 points behind Ferrari in the table heading to Spain, they will need more winning battles with the Scuderia – and perhaps some homecoming heroics from Alonso – if they are to gain ground on the Italian team.

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