After a challenging outing in Monza last time out, Esteban Ocon is fully focused on a stronger weekend in Singapore. Esteban will race on his birthday for the second time in his Formula 1 career on Sunday night aiming to cap it off with the perfect gift…
It was a tough weekend overall for the team in Monza, how do you intend to bounce back?
Monza was a difficult weekend on a circuit that did not play to the team’s strengths of our overall car package. We did not have a good qualifying and, in the race, we unfortunately had to retire the car as a precaution after feeling some steering wheel lock. It was a weekend of learning for us. Since then, we have sat down, kept our heads down and analysed the reasons why we lacked performance and how we can learn from that for future events. We remain positive and we are confident we can make a strong comeback in Singapore, a track that should better suit our car. We’ll keep our heads down and work hard to have a more competitive weekend.
How do you prepare for what is one of the most physically demanding tracks of the year?
We had a busy week leading up to this weekend, which of course included various debrief and preparation meetings, as well as simulator work in Enstone. I also visited our factory in Viry-Châtillon for more meetings and to spend some time with team members there. Physically, I focused on specific training for Singapore, which consists of acclimatising my body to the hot and humid conditions of the race. I feel ready to start the upcoming Asian double-header and work alongside the team to achieve strong results.
What are your thoughts on the Marina Bay Circuit?
I enjoy going to Singapore and, although this track poses some unique challenges, I do feel comfortable driving there. It is physically very demanding on the body, which of course all drivers prepare for, but I think driving around any city streets under the lights is always exhilarating. Unlike Monza, the Marina Bay circuit is a slower, twisty track, making it a very technical circuit for us drivers. Furthermore, we know that a street track like Singapore can present opportunities to do well and we will be looking to maximise these chances and aim to get back into the points come Sunday and make my birthday extra special!
Pierre Gasly targets a return to the points in Singapore after a disappointing weekend in Monza. It’s been a busy fortnight for the Frenchman, packed with the Pirelli tyre test, simulator preparation in Enstone and an exciting weekend in Le Mans for the second edition of the immense GP Explorer.
What have you done since Monza?
While it was not a race week in Formula 1, it’s certainly been a busy one for me! We stayed in Monza after the race for the 2024 Pirelli tyre test, which was a very full on day at the wheel. After that, I was at Enstone for some technical meetings and a packed-out day on the simulator in preparation for the next two races. At the weekend I had the pleasure of being in Le Mans for the second edition of the GP Explorer, which was sensational. It’s a huge event in France with various internet stars racing Formula 4 cars. Esteban and I attended and put on a show with the E20 Formula 1 car in front of a huge crowd and incredible atmosphere. I must say, I enjoy it when things like this come together, so congratulations to all those involved and I’m happy we at Alpine could be there to support it.
What did the team learn from last two races and what is the outlook for the upcoming double header?
As a team we really experienced the highs and lows of racing across the last two events. The podium in Zandvoort was fully deserved and we had a reasonable package there to compete for solid points. In Monza, we expected it to be a challenge and, unfortunately, we lacked performance and could not put ourselves in contention. We had a very productive day on the simulator last week and I think we are in better shape for the next two races where we aim to return to the points. It won’t be an easy two weeks across two very different tracks with very different demands and conditions, but I’m ready for it and certainly looking forward to getting out there and racing.
How ready are you for the demands of Marina Bay?
The Marina Bay Circuit is one of the trickiest on the calendar as it’s quite a bumpy street track with lots of turns and a lot of gear changes. On top of that, it’s extremely hot and humid in Singapore making this one of the biggest physical challenges of the year for us drivers and a place for which we have to carefully prepare. I do enjoy the track; I’ve scored points at the last two races there and certainly intend to make it three in a row. There is a slightly new layout with the removal of the chicanes in Sector 3 and instead a long straight leading into Turn 16. The lap is much faster than before and we’ll see what it’s like in Free Practice 1 and see what opportunities it might bring.
Singapore Grand Prix Factfile
Drivers/Team Facts and Stats:
• The Singapore Grand Prix is one of just two races on the 2023 Formula 1 calendar – alongside the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – to have a 100% record of Safety Car appearances.
• The Marina Bay Circuit is the only Formula 1 track which runs underneath a section of grandstand and has seen a reduction in corners, from 23 to 19, ahead of the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix.
• The Enstone team has reached Q3 with at least one car in the previous four Singapore Grand Prix events.
• Due to the intense humidity at the Singapore Grand Prix, drivers can lose up to four kilograms of weight during a race.
• Esteban will compete in the Singapore Grand Prix on his birthday for the second time having also done so in 2017 – it will be the 75th instance in which a Formula 1 driver has raced in a Grand Prix on their birthday.
• Securing his best finish of 10th place at the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix, Esteban has gained at least three positions during both of his finishes at the Marina Bay Circuit.
• Pierre achieved his best finish of eighth place at Marina Bay Circuit in 2019, securing a second points finish in 2022 with 10th-place.
• Renault-powered cars have 67 starts at Marina Bay Circuit, achieving four wins, 15 podiums, two poles, four fastest laps and 364 points.
Further Facts and Stats:
• Singapore’s pit entry and paddock area is overlooked by the 165-metre Singapore Flyer, which opened five months prior to the inaugural Marina Bay race in 2008. It was the world’s tallest Ferris wheel until being surpassed in 2014 by the 168-metre High Roller, which coincidentally overlooks the forthcoming Las Vegas F1 circuit.
• With four corners removed from the circuit layout compared to 2022, this year’s Singapore GP layout is set to be the fastest in Marina Bay history.
• Alpine are one of only four teams to have scored podium finishes with both of their drivers this season (Esteban Ocon in Monaco, Pierre Gasly at Zandvoort). Additionally, Pierre Gasly scored a top three result in the Spa sprint, making him one of only five drivers to finish in the top three in both race formats in 2023.
• The Italian Grand Prix was the 58th Grand Prix start for the Alpine name in Formula 1, overtaking the 57 starts made by Toleman, the name under which the Enstone team first entered Grand Prix racing in 1981.
• Pierre Gasly has scored 21 of his 37 points this season over the last three Grands Prix, and he has finished in the points in his last two visits to Marina Bay.