Alpine has scored a measly three points in the opening two rounds of the season, having dropped back from the team’s usual competition of McLaren, Ferrari and AlphaTauri, a sharp drop in contrast.
Explaining Alpine’s sudden turn of pace at Portimao, Ocon said: “It was a good session, I think a good day overall. Before this weekend we knew the car wasn’t necessarily where we wanted it to be, but we kept searching, kept digging, and arriving at the weekend there were a few things that we needed to test and I think we made a huge step this weekend in terms of performance and feel inside the car.
“On the weekend where last year it was quite tricky we ended up with having our best performance of the year so it’s very positive this weekend so far and we hope that we can keep this progress up like we are doing now and keep the level of performance as well.”
“It was not the best lap, I have to say, unfortunately,” Ocon explained. “So I’m a bit disappointed with being sixth, I think fifth was possible today. The great lap was the Q2 one.
The Q2, if I had that lap time in Q3 it would have been a different story but for everyone, the conditions were tougher. But yeah I needed to send it into Turn 1, that was the aim and my engineer is boosting me a little bit there so that was very nice.
“But the Q3 conditions were very, very difficult and I almost went off into Turn 1 on the first run of Q3, so it was a little bit of resetting and getting back to it, but overall a decent lap.”
In contrast, team mate Fernando Alonso had some issues when it came to getting the tyres up to temperature, with the driver finishing P13 in qualifying.