Esteban Ocon left the Bahrain International Circuit with confidence after moving up from eleventh on the grid to claim a seventh-place finish under the floodlights on Sunday evening.
The BWT Alpine F1 Team driver bemoaned contact with Haas F1 Team’s Mick Schumacher on the opening lap that left the Frenchman with a five-second time penalty to serve in his first pit stop, but he was able to put that behind him and drive strongly to score six points.
Ocon says there are plenty of positives to build on from Bahrain, and he hopes to put the knowledge the team gained this weekend to good use in next weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
“I’m very pleased with today and it’s a great start to the season with double points secured for the team,” said Ocon. “Our pace today was strong, there were some good overtakes and the team made the right calls on strategy.
“I’d like to say a special shoutout to the pit crew as well who were excellent with so many pit-stops today. Other than the incident with Mick, which I hold my hands up and apologise for, I was pretty pleased with my race.
“We will debrief with the team, we can take positives from today’s performance and we look ahead to next week. Onwards and upwards.”
“We have to keep learning about these new tyres” – Fernando Alonso
Team-mate Fernando Alonso admitted it was a tough evening under the floodlights for him, although he was happy to leave Bahrain with two points to his name thanks to a ninth-place finish.
Alonso was one of those who struggled more with tyre degradation in Bahrain, with the two-time World Champion one of the earliest to make their first pit stop on Sunday as the performance of his soft tyres fell off the cliff.
He knows that the learning process with Pirelli Motorsport’s new eighteen-inch tyres will continue, but despite his issues, he says bringing the car home inside the points was a positive start to the 2022 season.
“I’m happy to score two points in today’s first race of the season,” said Alonso. “It was not easy out there with the high tyre degradation, which we were all expecting going into the race.
“We defended a lot during the first stint and pushed quite hard, so perhaps this was less than ideal. We have to keep learning about these new tyres and it’ll probably be a big topic throughout the season.
“Overall, I think overtaking is easier because the tyres are all at different levels and following the cars ahead is better. We go again next weekend in Saudi Arabia, where no doubt it’ll be a different set of challenges.”