Alpine’s Esteban Ocon says he’ll be seeking a return to the first half of the grid in Austria after failing to score points in his home race last weekend at Paul Ricard.
Ocon qualified P11 in France but was never really a contender for points during a race that proved challenging due to tyre management, and more specifically during his first stint on Pirelli’s hard compound rubber.
Ocon’s pitstop after 28 laps and swap to the medium tyre left the Alpine charger a lowly 17th from where he managed to progress to P14 by the time he crossed the checkered flag.
But the disappointing result, that contrasted with teammate Fernando Alonso’s decent run to P8, clearly left the Frenchman and Alpine with some analysis work on its hands ahead of this week’s Styrian Grand Prix.
“I was disappointed with the race in France,” unsurprisingly admits Ocon. “We just couldn’t get into a rhythm in the race, especially on the first stint with the Hard tyres.
“It was very difficult to manage and it gives us some thinking to do to make sure we’re not in a similar situation this weekend.
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“Tyres have been a key area in Austria in the past years, so we have some preparation to do this weekend to make sure we’re back in the points.
“I’m certainly motivated and ready for the challenge.”
Last year, Austria’s double-header opened the Covid-delayed 2020 season, but the venue was also the scene of Ocon’s return to active duty in F1 with Renault after a year on the sidelines as a Mercedes reserve.
However, this year’s rounds at the Red Bull Ring have take on a completely different complexion compared to last season’s events.
“One thing that will be different this time around is that we’ll have fans in Austria and that’s exciting,” he says.
“Having fans in the grandstands, like in France, brings a whole new level of atmosphere and a real buzz. I really enjoy that, and I look forward to seeing the fans again this weekend.
“Austria is quite a unique circuit especially with its location in the hills. I really like that, though, as it’s not where you’d expect to have a racetrack!
“It’s a really beautiful location, so to spend two weeks there is always nice. I have some good memories at this track as it’s where I had one of my first podiums back in Formula Renault in 2012.
“Last year too, I had my best qualifying with the team in the wet, which was a lot of fun. Hopefully there are some more nice memories for us to make there.
Read also: Alpine performance level at Paul Ricard ‘a relief’ – Alonso
Speilberg’s layout is perhaps the least complicated and one of the shortest on the F1 calendar, but that just enhances the need to “extract” everything from the car stresses Ocon.
“While it’s a short lap, just over one-minute, it places a focus on extracting everything from the car and getting every corner right,” adds the 24-year-old.
“There are nine corners, which might sound easy as it’s less to learn, but actually everything has to be maximised.
“Small details are crucial to doing well in Austria. My favourite part of the lap is the double left-hander at Turns 6 and 7. They’re pretty quick and very enjoyable when you get them right.”
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