“I don’t want to be here again, looking for another driver after two years, when the recent past shows that it never really turns the right way. If you have a good driver, you want to keep him. I think it’s good for us, good for him.
“We have a long, long way to make progress. He buys into the project, he lends credibility to our project. For me, it’s also a guarantee that we’re going to perform in the driver department.
“Esteban is arguably a top ten driver, minimum. So, we don’t make a big mistake here. For me, it was a no-brainer. It’s part of a long journey, and Esteban fits into that mould quite well.”
The three-year term also suggests that the team believes that has the right stuff, and thus can develop into a superstar of the very top rank like Max Verstappen, the man he once beat to the FIA F3 title.
“I see Esteban as having that potential,” says Rossi. “He needs to fulfill it but I see him having that potential.
“Esteban’s a great fine-tuner, he reminds me a lot of Alain Prost” Laurent Rossi
“And actually, he’s showing it every single qualification. Bar the first four that have arguably a faster car, the rest is usually more of a driving performance, and he’s consistently getting very high on the rankings. So for me, yes, he has a lot of potential that we want to unpack, unfold at Alpine.”
Rossi makes it clear that Ocon brings a lot to the team, on and off the track.
“First off, he’s a great fine-tuner, if you will, a ‘metteur au point’, he reminds me a lot of Alain [Prost], actually. He’s very good at extracting the maximum out of the car and it shows, constantly improving it. He’s damn fast too. Give him any car, he’s fast. He shows it every quali.
“So that makes him a very good driver first-off. He’s a very good team-mate, he’s good with the rest of the team. When I say ‘team-mate’, not just to the other driver but also to the rest of the team. He’s basically pushing everyone up and it shows. He’s a great guy to have in the team, in fact.