Alonso Pushed Ocon To Limit He Didn't Know Himself Says Lagrue

by Adam OndrikMonday, 22 January 2024 at 17:00
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Chief of Mercedes' junior program, Gwen Lagrue, asserted Fernando Alonso pushed Esteban Ocon to the limits and, therefore, helped him improve.
What does the chief of Mercedes' junior program know about Alpine's driver? Esteban Ocon used to be part of the Mercedes junior program, and as Gwen Lagrue recently explained, the French driver is still very linked with the German team.
Esteban Ocon showed great promise as a young driver, so Mercedes decided to give him a chance in 2016 in one of their customer teams, Manor Racing MRT.
Lagrue remembered how he was able to find a spot for the Frenchman in another of the customer teams - Force India/ Racing Point. He told The Race:

"We managed at Mercedes to organize him [Ocon] the seat. At the end of season arrived the possibility to move him up to Force India. And he did two years there, and he did a pretty good job, which was the take-off, let's say, of his F1 career."

While he proved he had what it takes during his time with the team, his contract wasn't prolonged after the end of the season in 2018, and he had to wait out one year before finding a spot in Alpine, where he is until today.
In seasons 2021 and 2022, the 27-year-old was joined by the Spanish Matador - Fernando Alonso. It is important to mention their relationship as teammates was not perfect.
There were some notable tensions and disagreements between the two. However, Lagrue believes Alonso had a positive influence on Ocon's performances overall.

"To be honest, the last two years, what he did against also Fernando [Alonso] was pretty strong. So we are not talking about always winning or doing podiums etc, but still he did a very, very, very good job."

The chief of the Mercedes junior program still keeps a close eye on Ocon's performances and asserted that Alonso pushed the Frenchman to new heights. He added:

"And I think Fernando pushed him also to a limit he didn't know [in] himself, and he's still improving."