Fernando Alonso bearing the brunt of Alpine’s System 1 reliability woes in 2022 put an asterisk over Esteban Ocon’s intra-team victory – by means of which he turned solely the second team-mate to correctly outscore Alonso over the course of a yr – however Ocon nonetheless made a marked enchancment this season.
Ocon’s yr lacked the headline consequence that his Hungarian GP win supplied in 2021 however he was constantly nearer to Alonso, and it continues an upward pattern he’s been on since initially struggling when he returned to F1 in 2020 with the Renault works crew, having spent 2019 on the sidelines as Mercedes’ reserve driver.
He’s nonetheless removed from being positioned in F1’s prime bracket of drivers and there have been query marks over his team-leading capability when Alonso’s shock change to Aston Martin was introduced.
However he’s developed into an efficient performer in F1’s midfield, he’s in contrast properly to Alonso and he matched his finest consequence within the drivers’ championship (eighth) with 16 factors finishes from 22 grands prix.
Ocon places his continued enchancment throughout his three years with the producer partly all the way down to adjustments he’s made off-track with a brand new coaching regime this yr that he joked left him with “no life”.
“So much, quite a bit,” Ocon mentioned when requested if his new coaching regime has contributed to his efficiency this yr.
“It’s not a secret that we’ve been working with my physio since final yr, so Tom [Clark, his trainer/physio] has joined the crew final yr, Michel [Berthelemot, PR] can also be right here serving to me with plenty of completely different stuff. In order that total makes it a really sturdy crew.
“And it has helped me on plenty of completely different particulars, simply hold power all year long. But additionally my coaching centre, which my physio communicates with in France, has moved from the Pyrenees to Annecy, and I stay fairly near that place. So I can mainly [do] coaching camp between races.
“So, no life, I might say! As a result of I spend day-after-day flat out working, there, however I really feel quite a bit stronger. And I really feel like I’ve saved much more power than throughout final yr, despite the fact that it’s a season extra condensed, and a season the place we end earlier.”
Ocon has beforehand spoken of the good thing about that Pyrenees coaching camp and credited that for serving to him construct the muscle he wanted to get well when he returned to racing in F1 in 2020.
Though it could seem to be a minute element, that camp transferring nearer to Ocon’s house is the “little particulars that I wanted to step up”.
Ocon additionally spoke of getting “extra necessary individuals round me” this yr and build up his off-track crew who assist together with his coaching programme.
He’s conscious there’s additional enchancment to be made in 2023, significantly as he’ll be (marginally) the senior driver within the crew for the primary time in his F1 profession, with three extra F1 begins relative to team-mate Pierre Gasly and far more expertise throughout the Enstone crew.
“The crew is proud of the job I’m doing in the mean time,” Ocon mentioned when requested if he’s prepared to steer Alpine subsequent yr.
“So I’m not involved that when Pierre goes to come back on board, that we [won’t] have sufficient data.
“And I’ve sufficient expertise contained in the crew to be right away on tempo and to assist them develop early on in 2023.
“After all, Pierre must be as fast as he can early on, as a result of we have to be scoring factors, however I’m certain with every thing we have now now we have now in place, there’s going to be no situation.”
One in every of Ocon’s key targets for 2023 is to assist Alpine get on prime of the precise set-up earlier within the weekend and keep away from a number of the anomalous weekends and type blips he’s skilled since returning to F1.
“I at all times have issues that I’m on prime of and I attempt to enhance however you should take a look at the sample throughout the yr, as a result of you might have issues that you just want in another way throughout a race and one other race,” Ocon defined.
“Typically you should be extra centered on serving to the technique, for instance, generally you should be extra on the aero, as a result of we have to actually discover out what’s the optimum aero stage, for instance.
“It’s extra about predicting the issues early on within the weekend and understanding the place the good points are going to be, and there’s so many areas that are so troublesome to foretell earlier than you arrive to a weekend.
“However the extra you do races at sure tracks and the patterns are at all times the identical on the similar tracks. So what you’ll have to do and I’ve all of it in right here for subsequent yr.”
So as to assert himself over ex-karting rival Gasly and show himself able to main Alpine’s potential cost to the entrance of F1, Ocon – with the assistance of his off-track crew – must eradicate these final remaining efficiency inconsistencies and take one other step.