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Alpine “very ambitious” despite fourth-place target for 2023

Esteban Ocon says Alpine aims to take a step towards Formula 1’s top three teams this year but isn’t expecting to repeat his 2021 race win.

Alpine finished fifth in the championship that year, then rose one place in the standings last season. Although the team was unable to replicate Ocon’s surprise 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix victory, he said they made clear progress.

“We finished fourth in Japan, fifth in Red Bull Ring [last year], there was not a lot missing,” Ocon told media including RaceFans at the team’s launch last week. “With a worse car in 2021 we won a race and we finished third in one. So everything’s possible.”

His former team mate Fernando Alonso, who left Alpine at the end of last season, last week criticised teams who he felt were “happy to finish fourth”. Ocon pointed out the team need to perform significantly better to stand a chance of beating Red Bull, Ferrari or Mercedes.

“Yes, as a target itself, it can sound similar to say we want to finish fourth, but the gap from fourth to third is huge at the moment,” said Ocon. “It was about 300 points or something in the constructors. So if we can be fourth but try and get much closer to third and maybe fight for third, that’s a completely different dimension.

“Trying to [go from] top-five finishes into podium territories, that’s completely different. So obviously it’s a very high target that we’re setting ourselves, continuing the regulations.

“But we have to set ourselves that target. We are very ambitious, we are competitors. That’s what we want to achieve. In Formula 1 anything can happen and we hope there’s going to be surprises.”

Ocon, who has already driven the team’s new A523 chassis at Silverstone, does not expect to discover Alpine have a race-winning package when pre-season testing begins at Bahrain International Circuit tomorrow.

“Realistically, I don’t think that’s where we set ourselves. Obviously, if we put the car in Bahrain and it’s super-performing, we can speak after Bahrain, yes. But at the moment I don’t think that is realistic.

“We’ll see. There could be surprises in F1, we’ve seen it in the past. We were not expecting the Brawn to be a winning car in 2009. So we will see.”

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