Alpine’s Esteban Ocon has emphasised that Fernando Alonso has already shown that he deserves to stay in Formula 1 beyond the end of this season.
After taking a two-year sabbatical following his McLaren departure, the Spaniard returned to the pinnacle of motorsport with Alpine last year, and managed 15 points finishes as he ended the year ahead of Ocon, with the pair drawing the qualifying head-to-head 11-11.
The Frenchman took victory in Budapest last season, and held his own superbly against the experienced double world champion, with whom he has greatly enjoyed working.
“Being a team-mate of Fernando’s is great,” Ocon said in conversation with DAZN.
“When he joined the team, a lot of people told me it would be very difficult and all these things that actually aren’t entirely true.
“I think we make a good pairing and I really enjoy working with him.”
Alonso managed a podium finish in Qatar last season, and might have had pole in Australia this season had it not been for an oil seal failure in qualifying.
A Safety Car then cost him a chance of a podium, and more bad luck turned a front row into a ninth-placed finish in Montreal last weekend.
The 40-year-old is still very much performing at an elite level, so there is no reason, in Ocon’s eyes, why he should not have his deal extended beyond the end of this season.
“Of course, Fernando doesn’t have to prove anything. If he wants to continue in Formula 1, he will stay. He is still motivated and he is the lion that he always was,” he added.
The 25-year-old remarked that it would be a “great season” if he can stand on the top step again in 2022, and believes that Alpine can become championship contenders in the coming years.
As for his own personal goals for the rest of 2022, Ocon admits he is eyeing a podium and “with a win it would be a great season”.
“We want to win again, but if we are realistic, we are not in that position. If we get podiums, for us it is like winning,” explained Ocon.
“In the past they won with Fernando, so it is there, we can do it. I believe in this project and that is why I signed for several years.”
Ocon and Alonso and been in the points 12 times so far this season, leaving them fifth in the Constructors’ Standings after nine rounds, eight points behind fourth-placed McLaren.
The team’s last championship came back in 2006 under their Renault guise when Alonso claimed the second of his two consecutive crowns.