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Formula 1 – Bahrain GP: Esteban Ocon, from beating Fernando Alonso to not knowing which way the wind is blowing

Any pilot can go into crisis during a season. But Esteban Ocon's unexpected bump draws attention due to the steepness of his

Formula 1 – Bahrain GP: Esteban Ocon, from beating Fernando Alonso to not knowing which way the wind is blowing


Any pilot can go into crisis during a season. But Esteban Ocon’s unexpected bump draws attention due to the steepness of his descent, and its depth is yet to be confirmed. To the extent that Alpine goes to the next British GP at the last resort of a team to clear the mind of its pilot and clear all kinds of doubts: the change of chassis.

Identifying the human or technical causes in the performance of a pilot is a complex and sometimes esoteric task. To clear up the last unknown, Alpine accesses the costly resource of mounting a new car in the face of the disconcerting and unexpected crisis of its driver. From beating Fernando Alonso in the first four races and being renewed to not passing Q1 while the Spaniard regularly enters Q3 and scores in the last four races.

What virus has entered Esteban Ocon’s overalls and helmet? Is there a correlation between Alonso’s rise and the Frenchman’s situation? That both dynamics coincide entangles the diagnosis. Fernando Alonso anticipated that Silverstone could be very favorable for the A521, a very different track from the previous ones and, perhaps, propitious terrain for the redemption of Esteban Ocon.

Ocon has been working with his engineers in recent weeks after their surprising results for the great start of the season

An unexpected crash

If your partner is any reference, Esteban Ocon hasn’t even gotten close to Alonso in recent races. Until Baku, the French had taken the initiative. In the first six races he was slightly more than two tenths ahead of Alonso on Saturday. “I think it’s good, we’re seeing it, he’s in great shape, fully integrated into the team, what he’s doing is very impressive,” acknowledged the Spanish when the Frenchman got six tenths from him in the Spanish GP practice. . “I am giving one hundred percent and obviously it is not enough to be at that level, so I need to keep improving ”. These are not words that were ever heard from Fernando Alonso before his first retirement from F1.

But to lead Alpine Ocon has fallen from the last GP of Spain. Including 16th in Bahrain (by penalty), ninth was his average grid position to Alonso’s twelfth in the first four races. But since Montmeló disappears from Q3. In the two Red Bull Ring events, he ranked seventeenth. His best result on Sunday in the last four appointments is a thirteenth, after scoring in four of the five initials of 2020.

“I do not know, in the first races Esteban made the most of the car, on Saturday the performance he had in some great prizes I could not achieve”, explained Fernando Alonso last week in this regard, “but now I am more comfortable with the car, or it has coincided that he is more uncomfortable, or it was just a natural progression that we all had in the first few races. I don’t know about Esteban’s problems, but he will surely be super competitive soon ”. The evolution of Alonso could explain a pairing but not such a collapse in circuits where the Spanish has squeezed the potential of the A521 and the French has stayed too far. That Alonso clarifies that Ocon may be more uncomfortable may be related to the recent changes in the A521.

Clear the ghosts

Ocon recently acknowledged that he has locked in with his engineers in recent days to find out the root of his problems, carefully analyzing the Spanish telemetry. Has Alpine’s modifications to the A521 to facilitate Alonso’s adaptation and riding style have influenced your riding? Do both units share the same specifications, and what has helped the Spanish has not favored the French? Alonso spoke of the power steering and suspensions as a weak point for him in the first part of the season. It seems that the modifications introduced from Baku have benefited the Spanish. After Montmeló, Ocon has not hit the ball, for whatever reasons.

A crisis started with the announcement of its renewal, in which it received all kinds of praise from Laurent Rossi, the CEO of Alpine. “He reminds me of Alain Prost”, “he is very good at squeezing the potential of the car”, “he is very fast, you can give him any car and he is fast, he shows it in each classification …” Hence the enigma of the current performance of Ocon. So much so that after the deep work behind the scenes of these weeks the team has made a drastic decision: Changing a chassis is an extreme resource that reveals the confusion of the human factor behind the wheel, of the team, but also illustrates the support for its driver Because sometimes the mental aspect is entangled with the technician, and the skein can only be untangled by pulling scissors, the car in this case. It is therefore a matter of clearing as many variables as possible in one go

“Esteban had two difficult races in Austria, and we are still investigating whether there are technical reasons for this. To remove any doubts, the team has made the decision to make major changes to his car for Silverstone, including a new chassis,” explained Marcin Budkowski. before starting the British weekend, confirming the extent of the crisis, punctual? from French. A measure that will help clear the ghosts that must haunt Esteban Ocon’s head, that perhaps they are shaking after the evolution of Fernando Alonso. Because it must be hard to go through in a few weeks from being acclaimed for dominating such an illustrious companion and being renewed for three years, to not knowing which way the wind is blowing. Esteban Ocon may finally find the answers at Silverstone.