Apart from the Hungarian weekend (where Esteban Ocon won at the beginning of August), Alpine and its two pilots are living the best hours of their year 2021. Ten days ago, the French team achieved its best overall result since the summer with the third place of Fernando Alonso (his first podium in eight years) and the fifth of Ocon, making the break (+ 25 points) against Alpha Tauri, his rival for the fifth place of the Constructors Championship.
And last Monday, the two pilots were invited to the Ballon d’Or party, in Paris (of which the brand was a partner), to bring on stage the trophies of the main categories including that of the best player who consecrated Lionel Messi for the seventh time, a record.
« It was a great time, nice, liked Ocon. I was sad not to leave with the Ballon d’Or but bringing it for Messi was something to experience once in a lifetime. Doing that with Fernando was fun and as a bonus I left with a Kylian Mbappé jersey! « Fernando Alonso, a big fan of Real Madrid, also underlined the « Privilege » felt to occupy such a role for this evening « Very well organized. It was a short but cool visit. «
After their beautiful Qatari evening and rather calm celebrations – « We took the plane home, we’ve been away for three weeks », summarized Alonso -, Alpine wants to keep a similar state of mind before tackling the last two races of the season in Jeddah this weekend then Abu Dhabi next week. « We must be humble and keep our feet on the ground, warned the double world champion. We must keep the same objective as usual: aim for Q3 on Saturday and finish in the points on Sunday. «
Alonso: « There are still a lot of unknowns »
But this weekend in Saudi Arabia is more difficult to apprehend than usual on an unprecedented rather specific route with its length, its average speed and its configuration in town with the safety rails right at the edge of the track. “There are still a lot of unknowns, Alonso continued before the first laps on Friday. Will the engine be really stressed? Or will the tires be the topic of the weekend? «
Ocon, he did not hesitate to describe things in a … direct way! « It reminded me a bit of Macau, some parts, he analyzed. We are going to push the limits in terms of proximity to the walls, at such speeds. It will take balls. «
But be careful not to want to « show » them too quickly. « We have to build confidence over the weekend as is the case in Monaco and Baku, continues the French. You must also know how to progress with the circuit (which will become faster with the successive deposits of gum). We can not be fully from the first free practice. Besides, if you are too aggressive at the start, you can lose confidence and speed. «
The lead over Alpha Tauri in the Championship should allow the two Alpine riders to tackle the Saudi meeting without the risk of wanting to do too much. « It’s important 25 points, admitted Ocon. Even if they (the Alpha Tauri) will be fast over the last two races and that we will have to score points, we feel a little more secure. « It will take that to be able to let loose on the narrow Saudi snake at nearly 250 km / h on average.