Alpine has received a big boost in terms of the long-term future of Esteban Ocon. On Wednesday, it was officially confirmed that Esteban Ocon will remain with the Renault-owned Formula 1 team until 2024. The new contract puts an end to Ocon’s chances of becoming a Mercedes driver, as the incumbent world champion had him under contract as a youth and backup driver before joining the French team. The monetary details of the contract are yet to be revealed.
In 2020, Ocon came second in Bahrain’s Sakhir Grand Prix, his best finish to date and maiden podium performance in Formula One. Fernando Alonso, a two-time world champion from Spain, is his current partner, who began his comeback this season on a two-year deal. Ocon has gained in confidence and stature, according to Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi.
“We have every confidence in Esteban to help drive the team and the brand to the next level and meet its long-term objectives. Esteban is an asset for us beyond F1 as he is deeply involved in the Alpine global project.”
The Frenchman got off to a shaky start at Renault. He had moments of brilliance, but after a year away from the sport, he needed time to shake off the rust – a scenario made more difficult by a succession of mechanical failures and a teammate in Daniel Ricciardo who was finally reaching his stride.
Ocon has been 0.25s faster than Alonso after six races, with two top-six finishes in Portugal and Spain, respectively. On aggregate, he qualifies tenth, three places ahead of his more experienced teammate. He has scored four times in six races, compared with three occasions in six for Alonso. Despite the fact that he remains one point behind his partner in the drivers’ standings, Alonso finished sixth in Baku, a race in which Ocon stopped after three laps due to a mechanical fault, improving his score by 60%.
Alpine has high regard for Alonso and has been impressed by how quickly he has shaken off the rust following a two-year absence. Ocon has done significantly better, which was enough to persuade them to pull him off the market. A three-year contract in Formula One is enormous and shows Alpine’s faith in Ocon.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in Formula 1, and it doesn’t come along very frequently. Ocon – and his management team – were well aware of this and seized the opportunity. He has a great career ahead of him since he is just 24. At this stage of his career, trying to put down real roots at Alpine and making the most of the consistency will help him to continue his development.