The new contract will see the 24-year-old Évreux native stay with the French team for five seasons and until 2024
By Yuri Coghe
French driver Esteban Ocon has signed a three-year extension with Alpine, the team has announced on Wednesday and ahead of his home race on Sunday.
The new contract will see the 24-year-old Évreux native stay with the French team for five seasons in total and until 2024. Ocon, a former member of the Mercedes Junior Team, has been on good form in 2021 having finished four of the six races in the points.
His recent performances earned praise from teammate Fernando Alonso in mid-May and led to Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff saying he was one of the options being considered for their still uncertain second seat for next season. Ocon’s twelfth in the drivers’ championship with 12 points, one less than Alonso.
“I’m delighted to continue with the team beyond this year and it’s a fantastic feeling to secure my future with Alpine,” said Ocon in a press release. “We’ve been progressing well together since I joined the team and I aim to continue that journey going forward.”
He’s been on the team since 2020 when the outfit was still named Renault. He scored 62 championship points that year and got his first F1 podium at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix when he finished second.
“There are great challenges ahead of us, especially with the new regulations in 2022. I’m sure we can hit our targets by working hard together and continuing the story. I often think back to the Sakhir Grand Prix last year with the podium, and it motivates me to create more special memories like that.”
Ocon made his Formula 1 debut in 2016 with Manor, a back-of-the-grid team that raced with Mercedes engines and folded after one season with just one point in the bag, earned by German driver Pascal Wehrlein at the 2016 Austrian Grand Prix. The Frenchman finished all nine races for the struggling outfit after replacing Indonesian driver Rio Haryanto.
He then signed with Force India, another squad the German brand supplied power units for, in a second move helped by his ties to the Mercedes Junior Team. Ocon continued with them in 2018 when the outfit rebranded to Racing Point mid-season after being bought by Canadian billionaire businessman Lawrence Stroll.
The acquisition, however, would eventually lead to Ocon losing his seat to the new owner’s son, Lance Stroll. He couldn’t find another team for the 2019 season, having to settle for the Mercedes reserve driver role. He came back to the grid in the following year as a Renault driver, no longer being associated with the German constructor.
Ocon’s extension is the second to be announced this season, after Lando Norris and McLaren signed a ‘multi-year’ deal in May.
If the Mercedes support helped Ocon in the past, his relationship with Renault/Alpine, helped by the French connection, has been equally fructiferous.
“Since returning to the team in 2020, Esteban has grown in confidence and stature to deliver consistently good results and help develop the car with the team,” said Alpine cars CEO Laurent Rossi. “Despite his young age, he is very experienced in Formula 1 and he’s on a positive trajectory in both his maturity and ability behind the wheel.”
Alonso’s contract with Alpine is valid until the end of the 2022 season when he’ll be 41 years old. Former Toro Rosso, Red Bull and AlphaTauri driver Daniil Kvyat is the team’s reserve driver.
“He is a strong asset for us now and also going forward as we meet the challenge of the new regulations. We have every confidence in Esteban to help drive the team and the brand to the next level and meet its long-term objectives,” continued Rossi. “Esteban is an asset for us beyond F1 as he is deeply involved in the Alpine global project. Thanks to his personality and values, Esteban is naturally a perfect ambassador of Alpine.”