Alpine’s Esteban Ocon seeks a ‘healthy rivalry’ with teammate Fernando Alonso, who shared that he observes differences between the team now versus in 2009.

Ocon has been known to spar with F1 teammates from time to time – most notably Sergio Perez – as is the case with Alonso. But the Frenchman says that he and the Spaniard both seek a ‘healthy rivalry’ in their partnership at Alpine in 2021.

Ocon says that such a rivalry can elevate both himself and Alonso. “I mean, of course we want a healthy rivalry,” he said in the press conference. “But we definitely want to push each other on the performance just to get some decent results, some quick lap times in qualifying and all the rest of it. I mean with Fernando I have a good relationship.

“It’s working really well so far. And I expect it to be the same for the rest of the season,” summed up Ocon. Alonso has spent much of the off-season working with Renault to form a successful relationship, and having worked with him for much of the winter as well as some of the season, Alpine’s Marcin Budkowski says the Spaniard is on ‘top form’ – even after an injury to his jaw in February.

“He was in the simulator at the beginning of the week before coming here, so he’s very involved with the engineers and the development of this year’s car,” said Budkowski. “He’s started also doing some simulator testing to help us on the 2022 project, so he’s already very much involved there.

“At the track, he’s got huge experience in the sport and a huge amount of knowledge and interaction with the engineers, so again that’s going to be very, very helpful in preparing the season. He’s on top form,” Budkowski shared.

Upon his return, Alonso noted that Alpine are ‘very different’ to the Renault team he left for Ferrari in 2009, saying that such drastic changes are ‘a good sign’. “They are very different,” he said. “And that’s a good sign. After 10 years if they were all the same, maybe that was not good news for us so I think the factory has been updated quite heavily.

“There is more people working now, the Viry in France, also the factory has been updated and I think the level of technology that we have right now compared to 15 years ago is very different. I’m very happy with the things that I saw from last year. Visiting both Enstone and Viry.

“We have very talented people in the team. We have great designers technicians. Some of the mechanics, they still same of my last time so that’s also a good touch of the old days as well, and a good atmosphere that we all want to repeat the success we have in the past. But we have new people, very good spirit, very young talented people so, you know, we are quite a nice organisation now so hopefully we can deliver,” Alonso said.

Here’s Alpine explaining why bulky airbox

Here’s Fernando Alonso racing with titanium plates

Here’s lap count from Bahrain F1 Test