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'What a race' – Ocon overjoyed to score Alpine’s first point of the season in Miami

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MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 03: 13th placed qualifier Esteban Ocon of France and Alpine F1 walks in the Pitlane during Sprint Qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at Miami International Autodrome on May 03, 2024 in Miami, Florida.

Alpine have finally kickstarted their 2024 points tally after Esteban Ocon ended the Miami Grand Prix in 10th place, leaving the Frenchman thrilled that the team now have “some reward” following a tough start to the campaign.

With Ocon and team mate Pierre Gasly starting from 12th and 13th on the grid, the pair engaged in a close wheel-to-wheel battle during the opening lap of the race before Gasly eventually came out on top.

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However, it was Ocon who later got ahead after benefitting from a Virtual Safety Car period to make a quick pit stop before going on to claim the final point on offer in P10, crossing the line just one second ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in P11.

“What a race,” a beaming Ocon commented afterwards. “110 per cent intensity the whole way through – every lap was a massive push. We can’t be 100 per cent satisfied because it’s just one point.

“We need to keep doing these baby steps forward but, looking at where we were in Bahrain – [17th and 18th] – well done to the team for keeping on the belief, keeping the motivation going and improving the car step by step, because today finally we come out of a weekend with some reward.”

‘What a race!’ Ocon beaming after scoring Alpine’s first point of the season in Miami

As well as duelling with Gasly, Ocon’s busy afternoon at the Miami International Autodrome also saw him go head-to-head with former team mate Fernando Alonso in the latter stages, a scrap that the Aston Martin driver ultimately won.

Asked how much he had enjoyed the battle – with it seemingly being one of Alpine’s first opportunities to fight during the season so far – Ocon responded: “Yeah, exactly! One of the first times this year we could fight. We came 11th in Shanghai, it was not quite in the points.

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“But whatever all the people say, I enjoy a lot the fights with Fernando, I always did. I know how far I can push it with him, I know how far we can go side-by-side. I ran out of battery, that’s what I told him and that’s why he couldn’t pass me so quickly!

“But yeah, well done to him, it’s been a great fight and I hope I can have many more in the future with him.”

Gasly, meanwhile, had to settle for P12 after the race didn't quite go in his favour. Reflecting on his early head-to-head with Ocon, the 28-year-old said: “It was pretty intense. [I] didn’t get much space through [Turns] 2 and 3, so unfortunately I had to run wide there but managed to get him back after that.

Gasly describes ‘pretty intense’ battle with Alpine team mate Ocon in Miami

“There [were] great battles. After that I think we did a very good race as a team, I’m happy. Obviously gutted about that Virtual Safety Car, we had a strategy with the leading car to pit early and the trailing car to go long and try to catch the Safety Car, and yeah, this is what happened so unfortunately the coins fell on the wrong side for me today.

“But for the team it’s a point, fantastic effort. It just shows we are making steps forward, making good progress. I think it’s going to be a great source of motivation. Unfortunately nothing we could have controlled there, but hopefully the luck will come our way next time.”

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Alpine have continued to bring updates to the A524, having first introduced a significant floor upgrade on Ocon’s car in China before delivering the same specification for Gasly in Miami.

With the team finishing at the back of pack during the season-opener in Bahrain, Gasly is pleased to see how the car has developed since then.

“I must say, it does feel like we can be a bit more in the fight,” the Frenchman conceded. “We have a bit more control over the race and what happens.

“I was able to pull some great moves, even on Fernando at the start of the race. There were some good fights out there so, yeah, we’ll keep improving, but overall we’re going in the right direction.”

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