Esteban Ocon has admitted that Alpine “don’t have any margin” for error after he finished 13th in the 2021 Formula 1 season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Frenchman saw his qualifying run impacted by yellow flags and failed to get out of Q1 as a result, while he struggled to make progress through the field on race day.
Any chance of a points finish was ended when Sebastian Vettel collided with Ocon in the braking zone at Turn 1, but the Alpine driver said his starting position was what really “hurt” his chances of a top 10 result.
“I think if we started further up the road, I think we would be fighting for points, for sure,” Ocon said. “I fought with the Aston Martin of Vettel today and Lance finished in the points. We were fighting with those cars. It’s clear what hurt us was the starting position.
“I think if we were starting inside the top ten, of course, you’re already in the points, but 11th or 12th, that would have been a chance for us to get into the points. But [only] just, clearly. We don’t have any margin, we clearly need to extract the maximum out of the car to do that.
“We have clear ways of seeing where we are, lacking a little bit of performance or where we have an area to improve. We know where it is, it’s up to us to find that and find more pace for the next events. That gives us a bit more margin.”
While the new sporting regulations were delayed from 2021 to 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, new floor regulations introduced over the off-season seem to have shaken up the competitive order.
Discussing the 2021-spec Alpine, Ocon said that it is not a “carryover” from last season’s car.
“Everyone says, it’s a year we keep the same rules, it’s a carryover from last year,” he added.
“This is not the reality in fact. In fact, most of the car is new for everybody, for us, for sure, we know what we have on the car.
“Everybody lost a good amount of grip and downforce and everybody is trying to get that back on the car. For sure at the moment with those new rules, everybody is slower, we are as well compared to the car we had last year.
“So we know where to find the time and we know where to recover the lap time. The part of spotting where it is, is done, now we have to do it.”