14. 6. 2023
Home from home
After the podium in Monaco and points in the bag in Barcelona, Esteban Ocon is looking forward to heading across the Atlantic to Montréal for the Canadian Grand Prix. And, spurred on by Jeremy Clarkson’s recent visit to Enstone, the Frenchman is full of motivation for racing in the French-speaking Quebec region.
How are you feeling at this stage of the season?
We can be proud of how the team has bounced back following a difficult start to the season, which we know was below our expectations. We have scored double points at each of the last three races and achieved a deserved podium as well. The team has been working flat-out to deliver these results so all credit to them, both at the factories and at the track. We know, however, we are not at the level of our competitors in front so that is something we are addressing as we still want to the achieve the ambitious targets that we have set ourselves at the beginning of the year. We are fighters and we believe we can challenge our competitors on the track like we’ve shown already at races this season. Every race is an opportunity for this, and we are glad we can have another go this weekend in Montréal.
Does Montréal feel a bit like racing at home given the support from local French-speaking fans?
It definitely feels like a home from home! As soon as we land, we can really feel the support around us. Of course, Montréal is predominantly a French-speaking city so it does add something special to us French drivers. It is a cool and vibrant town, which transforms during the weekend of the Grand Prix, as it seems that F1 is everywhere and that is great to see! It’s a favourite on the F1 calendar and we are happy to be back here and hope to have a good weekend. It will be great to race in front of the passionate Canadian fans again.
What do you think of the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve?
It’s a great track and I really enjoy driving there. Most corners in Montréal come as a double change of direction, which requires good responsiveness from the car, so set-up is very important. There are also the walls which make it exciting to drive and keeps us on our toes. The track surface in Montreal is usually quite smooth but tyre degradation in the race is normally relatively high as we use the softest compound of tyres. Combined with the stop-and-go nature of the track, this improves the chances of overtaking which can make it an entertaining Grand Prix. We were sixth here last year so we will look to match or improve that this time around!
CAN(ada) do attitude
Pierre Gasly made it three points scoring finishes in a row after his tenth-place effort in Spain. After a strong Saturday showing – fourth in Qualifying – the Frenchman is determined to convert his pace into a bigger reward on Sundays. He looks ahead to the Canadian Grand Prix in Montréal this weekend.
What are your thoughts after the last two races?
It’s been a busy couple of weeks with the Monaco-Spain double header. We left Spain with mixed feelings after such a strong Saturday afternoon that was left without much reward as we finished tenth on Sunday. Obviously, we want to be competing higher than the minor points paying positions and being in a better position to capitalise on better starting places. What is encouraging from the last two races is the fact we are competitive. There are some details we must continue to work on and fix but everything is positive and we must draw on those and keep moving forwards. Canada is next and my target is to come away with as many points as possible.
What have you been doing over the past week in preparation for Canada?
It was good to take some time to relax a little as we prepare for five races in seven weeks up until the summer break. It’s also important to keep on top of training and keeping in shape for these demands, so I’ve been at home in Milan doing as much as I can pushing in the gym. I was very fortunate to be at Roland Garros last weekend to see the Final of the French Open and witness Novak Djokovic making history. It’s always an awesome experience to see other elite sports, so to be so close to the action on this day was very special.
How would you rate Montréal?
After racing on a more conventional circuit in Barcelona last time out we’re back to a street track in Montréal. It’s a really cool place to race, very fast with big braking zones and quick corners. I’ve been preparing in the simulator in Enstone, everything feels good and I’m looking forward to being on track on Friday. The weather does look interesting – rain is likely – so we’ll remain ready for all conditions and see what we can achieve. In addition, Montréal in general is a very fun place to be, especially as it’s a French-speaking city. As a result the support there is always exceptional and I’m looking forward to experiencing the atmosphere.
Canadian Grand Prix Factfile
Drivers, team facts and stats:
• The Montréal circuit is 4.316km (2.681 miles) in length, with the race length being a total of 305.270km (189.68 miles)
• It includes 14 corners, meaning each driver will complete 980 turns throughout the duration of the Canadian Grand Prix
• The Canadian Grand Prix has 70 laps, drawing with Hungary for the circuit with the fifth most laps in the 2023 season
• Canada has 52% chance of a safety car, based on its history as a Formula 1 Championship round
• This will be the 42nd time that the Canadian Grand Prix has been held at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
• Esteban has scored on all three of his appearances at the Canadian Grand Prix, with a best finish of sixth in both 2017 and 2022, and a ninth place in 2018
• Esteban has never failed to reach Q3 in Montréal and recorded his best qualifying result of seventh at the track last year
Further Facts and Stats:
• An Alpine has been among the top four fastest cars in Q3 at the last two races in a row. Esteban Ocon was fourth quickest in Monaco before being promoted to third due to grid penalties, while Pierre Gasly was fourth fastest in Barcelona before being the recipient of a penalty
• The Enstone team have previously won the Canadian Grand Prix by leading every lap of the race (Michael Schumacher in 1994) and by only leading the last lap (Nelson Piquet in 1991)
• BWT Alpine F1 Team are one of only two teams to have scored points with both cars at the last three races in a row (the other is Mercedes)
• Montréal’s Notre Dame Island hosted the Canadian Grand Prix from 1978. However, the Grand Prix track was renamed the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, in his honour following his fatal accident in 1982, as the inaugural Canadian GP was also Villeneuve’s maiden F1 race win.
• There have only been five occasions in the last 42 Canadian Grands Prix in which all top three on the grid have gone on to finish on the podium.