Esteban Ocon believes that the Alpine Formula 1 team can replicate the progress McLaren has made in 2023 and escape the midfield region in the coming seasons.

Alpine entered the current campaign aiming to consolidate the fourth position it secured last year while also reducing the large deficit that existed to the modern top three sides.

But the Anglo-French outfit has endured a tumultuous campaign, slumping to a lonely sixth place in the Constructors’ standings, behind both McLaren and Aston Martin.

Despite various changes at the helm since the Renault Group revived its F1 involvement in 2016, the Enstone squad have been unable to become an established front-runner, registering a best placing of fourth on two occasions before regressing the next year.

Ocon contends that the team, known as Alpine since 2021, has improved in several areas since his return three years ago, but admits its rivals have dwarfed that growth.

Asked whether Alpine fully understand why the side has stagnated, Ocon said: “You know, it’s for a lot of different reasons.

“There are things that we’ve improved and I was going through the list of that, when I joined the team, and how many things I thought that we needed to tackle, and there was a huge list obviously. And I was going through it again and thought ‘that’s ticked, that’s ticked, that’s ticked’, and we’ve improved a lot on many aspects.

“But… that really shows how much the other teams are also working and also improving. Which is frustrating because I think we are going in the right direction but the others have probably done better as a step suddenly. And in the end… you can try and improve as much as you can, as long as you don’t have the car to exploit that, that’s it. You’re stuck with the pace that you got.”

Ocon believes Alpine have maximised the opportunities where its A523 car has proven to be a more competitive proposition, though, most notably in Monaco and Zandvoort to bag podium finishes.

“So the best thing that you can do is get the opportunity when they come,” he continued. “And we’ve done that quite well, I think, as a team. That’s been quite good. We just need a car that is quicker initially, and then when we exploit it on track, we will be set already.”

(L to R): Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team and Oscar Piastri (AUS) McLaren in the FIA Press Conference. 31.08.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 15, Italian Grand Prix, Monza, Italy, Preparation Day.

Alpine pipped McLaren to fourth place in the championship last year, but the Woking side’s launch of a revised car in Austria has elevated it into regular podium contention.

McLaren has recently overtaken Aston Martin to seize fourth place, with Alpine lagging a sizeable 174 points behind despite only being overhauled in the 10th round.

Ocon insists that he’s not envious of McLaren’s remarkable mid-season resurgence, citing that it demonstrates what is possible for Alpine moving forward.

“I think there’s no jealously, no like ‘oh shit, they’ve done a really good job’,” Ocon said on McLaren. “To me it’s more like ‘oh, they’ve done it, so it is possible to be doing that’.

“So, fair play. Admiration for the work that they’ve done. And it is possible to get out of the midfield – because they’ve done so, so why not us, you know? My dad used to say – ‘two arms, two legs, two hands, two feet, so, possible, go for it’.”

Alpine’s troubled start to the season witnessed Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer and Sporting Director Alan Permane both exit after July’s Belgian Grand Prix, while ex-CEO Laurent Rossi was relocated into another company role outside of its racing division.

However, Ocon asserts that the upheaval won’t “change anything” when it comes to the development of Alpine’s 2024 challenger.

“I mean, I’m focused on that side of things very much, in a way with the races, so in between when I go back to the factory we talk a lot about this, but the restructuration of people that we had, that is not making a difference to how we plan and make the car, go ahead for next year,” Ocon explained.

“We are trying to do the best that we can and I’m trying my best to give early feedback and the best feedback as possible.”

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