Alpine have spent much of the season looking as though they could potentially be a challenger for best of the rest behind Red Bull and Ferrari, but rarely have they been able to truly show it.
Be it pole position being snatched away from Fernando Alonso after an oil seal failure, or ill-timed Safety Cars that have worked against the Spaniard, chances to stand on the rostrum, or even challenge for a little more, have fallen at the wayside.
Then there is the conundrum of how to get the car to work at every circuit after strong showings in some races such as Jeddah, Canada and Silverstone, and a deficit to both McLaren and Mercedes in others like Imola and Miami.
Now though, the French side are beginning to find some consistency, and Esteban Ocon has finished in the points eight times in total – three times in the last four races.
However, they have watched as Mercedes have taken seven podium finishes between Sir Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, while Lando Norris ended third in Imola in round four.
This is something they would like to change soon but, having drawn level on points with McLaren at the Austrian Grand Prix last time out, the Enstone team might not be a million miles away from fighting with the top dogs in Formula 1, but they are still a little behind at the moment.
“Yeah, at the moment, that’s where we are of course,” Ocon told Channel 4.
“As much as we have improved the car, we haven’t improved it enough yet to be able to fight the Mercs.
“But it is the aim to fight higher, for sure, and it’s still early days and I have hopes we can at some point fight with them.
“There are plans to bring more things to the car and we’ve seen since Silverstone the team brought an upgrade and made a massive step up.
“So that’s still on the way and we will keep going.”
Ocon suffered a reliability failure in Silverstone, without which Alpine might be ahead of McLaren in the Constructors’ Standings right now.
But, heading into his home race in France this weekend, the 25-year-old has out-qualified Alonso five times this year, and leads the race battle 7-4.
Some of that may be down to one or two issues on Alonso’s side of the garage, but there is no denying that Ocon is performing well against the double world champion, and working excellently with him to drive the team forward too.
“It’s going well for me at the moment, I’m pretty pleased,” he added.
“It’s very close, he’s mega at every race, he’s consistently pushing and that’s what brings the team performance up as well, and we are happy with the collaboration since last year.”
Ocon currently has a contract that keeps him at Alpine until at least the end of 2024, while Alonso is out of contract at the end of this year.
The French team are yet to announce whether or not the 40-year-old will be sticking around heading into 2023.