Esteban Ocon says he’s proud to be teammates with Fernando Alonso because he rates the Spaniard alongside the likes of Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher.
Alonso returned to Formula 1 this season after two years away from the sport and has impressed at Alpine, securing his first podium last time out in Qatar. With the double world champion performing strongly despite his break and currently 17 points ahead of Ocon, the Frenchman says he is getting to see first-hand what makes his teammate so special.
“Mega high respect I have for Fernando and for (many) years,” Ocon said. “I know how much work he puts in, how much motivation he has even now at his age and with how much experience he has and how much he has achieved in the sport. It’s more than impressive.
“I think he’s just a legend of the sport, he’s up there with the top guys – Senna, Schumacher, and he will always remain there because what we are doing now and what I see, how he thinks out of the box compared to the other drivers is unprecedented.
“There’s nobody that will think like him. I am glad to be his team-mate and proud to push as much as we can together for our common target.”
The podium for Alonso and fifth for Ocon moved Alpine 25 points clear of AlphaTauri in what had previously been a tight battle for fifth in constructors’ standings, meaning the Renault-powered team can secure the position this weekend in Saudi Arabia. Ocon provided another highlight for Alpine when he won in Hungary this year, and says the team has developed massively since 2020.
“Yes, huge, huge progress. Definitely since the beginning of the year and since last year. I see a team completely transformed, a team united and we have great pressure from the bosses. Laurent (Rossi), Luca de Meo, they are competitors as much as we are. They are fully supportive behind us.
“There’s such great vibes, there’s no negative stress inside the team and we are all pushing for the same direction. It’s definitely a perfect environment and we are also pushing the tactics to the maximum with Fernando on the track, doing great teamwork and that’s what we are showing on track, how basically the atmosphere is inside (the team) and that’s great.
“We keep that going and the plan as Fernando says is to get the team up – the team ready for fighting for podiums and wins more often in the future. That’s why we are working so well at the moment whilst all of us work in the same direction — we all need to keep working.”