Alpine has been involved in a driver market saga regarding one of their seats. However, the discussions about their second seat have been non-existent thanks to Ocon‘s future being confirmed till 2024.
This means that probably for the first time in his career, Esteban Ocon will be in the position as team leader. Even if Daniel Ricciardo returns to partner with him, his reputation has taken a beating and he has to prove a lot.
This is the exact reverse of the situation in 2020 when Daniel was the team leader and Ocon returned to F1 after a year on the sidelines, looking to prove that he belongs there.
For almost all of his career, Ocon has had teammates who were more experienced and were performing better than him at that point in their careers.
His first full-time season saw him pair up with Sergio Perez at Force India who was more definitely experienced than the two. After two seasons there, Ocon was dropped and was at the sidelines with Mercedes as a reserve.
He was teammates with Ricciardo after his return to F1 with Renault in 2020. Even after Ricciardo left at the end of 2020, Ocon’s transition to a team leader was halted by the arrival of the great Fernando Alonso.
While there is no clear team leader in the Alonso-Ocon pairing, Alonso has been stronger and has arguably higher peaks among the two. Though, that does not mean Ocon has been a slouch. In fact, he leads Alonso by 10 points in the table.
With both performings close to each other’s level, there has been no team leader at Alpine.
This changes in 2023 as Alonso leaves for Aston Martin at the end of this season.
Team principal, Otmar Szafnauer gave an assessment of his team leadership:
For sure. Esteban’s getting better and better. He’s got a race win under his belt. He’s got, for whatever reason – some of which is luck and reliability – but he’s scored good points for us this year.
“And he’ll learn more by the time we get to next year.”
Ocon is a quick driver who has performed consistently. But the next season provides him a chance to prove he is more than good. The thing that separates great drivers like Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, and Sebastian Vettel from the good ones is their ability off the race track to guide and lead the team.
Esteban has great a chance to mold the team as he wants and lead them to glory. It’s now on him that can he do it.
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