Esteban Ocon will head to Monaco next week pumped up to achieve a good result with Alpine which he says can fight top F1 midfield contender Ferrari in the Principality.
McLaren and Ferrari have detached themselves from their rivals, the two teams – separated by just five points – sitting respectively P3 and P4 behind Mercedes and Red Bull in the Constructors’ standings.
But in Barcelona, Ocon qualified 5th in between the Scuderia’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, and ahead of both McLaren’s drivers.
The Frenchman was beaten to the checkered flag on race day by both outfit’s chargers but Ocon reckons that Alpine’s qualifying pace could set up the French squad for a productive Sunday in Monte Carlo.
“I think we should be in good shape in Monaco,” Ocon told the media earlier this week. “I think we are going to be able to perform as good [as in Spain] so I think we can give a fight to Ferrari and the other cars around them in qualifying, I’m pretty confident about that.
“The area where we are focused in for Monaco is the race. But it’s hard to overtake so it’s less of a critical point.
“I think we are a bit slower than Ferrari and McLaren at the moment on pure race pace.”
Looking back at last weekend’s Spanish GP, a glance at the sector times in qualifying at the Circuit de Catalunya underscored the pace of Ferrari’s SF21 through the track’s slower Monaco-like third sector. Ocon’s confidence of outperforming the Scuderia’s drivers on Saturday could be challenged.
“Looking at the third sector in Spain we were quite competitive,” said Leclerc last weekend. “Of course, it’s different in Monaco but we seem to have a strong car so hopefully we can be competitive and have a good result.”
Sainz was equally confident of Ferrari’s potential in the glitzy Principality next week based on the sector numbers in Spain.
“Monaco is a very specific circuit,” Sainz said. “Having good downforce in the last sector in Spain gives you a good feeling and a good state of mind going into Monaco.
“Monaco then has a lot of specifics in terms of car setup, tyre preparation for qualifying, the cars are so different in Monaco.
“We need to focus on what we learned and try to put it all together with the best possible plan, the best possible set up for and try to maximise our performance there.”
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