Alpine Team principal Otmar Szafnauer feels Esteban Ocon has the ability to lead the team once Fernando Alonso leaves at the end of the season.
Alonso’s contract with Aston Martin was confirmed last week, and it is currently unknown who will take his place at the Enstone manufacturer. The team introduced reserve driver Oscar Piastri last Tuesday in the hopes that he would take the wheel. The Australian, who is believed to have inked a contract with McLaren, promptly denied that he will be competing for Alpine in the upcoming season on social media.
Alpine head Szafnauer says he has no doubts about Ocon’s abilities to assume leadership if necessary. Ocon, according to Szafnauer, shown his value alongside Sergio Perez at Force India/Racing Point in 2017 and 2018.
Otmar said: “Esteban is a tremendous talent – I worked with him at Force India and they were the days of Sergio Perez as his teammate. If you remember those days, he was just as quick as Sergio and raced Sergio hard. They were usually together on the grid. They even occasionally met up throughout the races.”
“Fernando is capable of completing a lap very rapidly because of his talent and skill. He needs three or four laps to get 99%, or 99.9%, and the additional 0.1% comes with a few more laps, if you get what I mean. Esteban, on the other hand, needs a little bit longer to extract the most performance from the car. But in the end, he shows up on Saturday and Sunday. He must therefore gain some knowledge in order to advance more quickly. But we’re working on that with him.”
“And thereafter, can he lead the team? For sure he’s getting better and better. He has a race victory to his credit. He has done well for us this year. By the end of the year, he will have learned more.”
Ocon is currently ranked eighth in the drivers standing with 58 points.