Esteban Ocon has promised a return to “war mode” in 2024, after what he describes as a disappointing season with Alpine. The Frenchman is eager to rediscover his aggressive mentality while racing alongside Fernando Alonso last year.
Ocon suffered more retirements than any F1 driver in 2023, which perhaps summarises his difficult campaign. Despite occasional highlights – such as his brilliant performance and subsequent podium in Monaco – it was a largely frustrations year.
Alpine failed to produce a car capable of regular podiums, regressing from 4th to 6th in the standings. There have also been a series of changes at the senior level, most notably with the dismissal of former team principal Otmar Szafnauer in the summer.
For a manufacturer team that began these regulations in a reasonable fashion, their current position is far from ideal.
Even with this relative decline in performance, there was no shortage of competitiveness within the team. Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly were very evenly matched in their first season as teammates.
Gasly managed to take the edge in the standings, performing impressively to achieve this in his first year with Team Enstone. Generally speaking, most expected that Ocon’s experience in the team would give him a bigger advantage this year.
Ocon to engage “war mode”
Speaking to GPblog after Abu Dhabi, Ocon revealed that he will adjust his approach for 2024:
“From the 2nd of January until the first test, I will be back fully into training camp.
“I’m going to be doing it the way I was in 2022, which is [having] no life, flat out, only racing…
“Back to war mode.”
Such a mentality will surely benefit a sport separated by such fine margins. This is especially true given how closely matched Ocon and Gasly have been thus far.
However, Alpine must ensure that their drivers do not clash next year. To be clear, driver selection is the least of Alpine’s concerns – having spent several years producing consistently average cars.
Still, it cannot be said that Ocon and Gasly’s collisions in Australia – for example – were helpful. In all areas, the French team must learn from its mistakes and take a clear step forward.