Alpine F1 Team secured its first win in Formula 1 at the Hungaroring thanks to a stunning drive by Esteban Ocon to grab his maiden victory in the sport. Fernando Alonso finished in fifth after some valiant battles of his own meaning the team heads into the summer break in the fifth position in the Constructors’ Championship.
In damp weather conditions, Esteban and Fernando got off the line well and managed to avoid several first corner incidents. With their mirrors full, the Frenchman exited Turn 1 in second place with Fernando just behind in seventh. A red flag brought proceedings to a short delay to allow the resulting debris to be cleared. During the 15-minute break in the action, the track began to dry leaving drivers and teams with an agonising choice on whether to fit the slicks at the end of the Formation Lap. In the end, only one car (Lewis Hamilton) lined up on the grid with Intermediate tyres, with Esteban and Fernando opting to switch to the dry compounds along with the rest of the field.
Both cars avoided any contact at the restart and Esteban assumed the lead of the race once Hamilton conceded and pitted for dry tyres. He settled into an early rhythm with the Aston Martin of Sebastian Vettel keeping him in close company.
Vettel was brought into the pits one lap earlier than Esteban, but a smooth pitstop by the team meant he held position and could avoid an undercut.
Whilst his team-mate was in the lead, Fernando was fighting inside the podium places, battling with Carlos Sainz and a late-charging Hamilton. With fresher rubber, Lewis shared a thrilling battle for fourth place with Fernando, whose actions protected Esteban’s lead from the seven times World Champion. The Spaniard was eventually forced to cede the place to the Mercedes at Turn 2.
Despite constant pressure from the German driver behind, Esteban delivered a measured and error-free drive to hold onto the lead and take the chequered flag. The result means Esteban becomes the first driver to win in a French car with a French engine since Alain Prost’s victory for Renault in Austria 1983. It is also the first victory for the Alpine brand, just six months after it made its F1 debut.
His team-mate stayed in fifth place and scored the best result of his Formula 1 comeback with the pair scoring Alpine’s best result in the sport to date.
Formula 1 Grand Prix winner, it’s unbelievable and it definitely has not sunk in yet. What a moment, allez les bleus! It was a crazy race from the very start to the end. There were a lot of decisions to make and the team executed that really well along with the crew who did a mega pit-stop, which was crucial to staying in front of Sebastian [Vettel].
I was happy to manage the pace as best as possible at the front and it all worked out well today. What a fight from Fernando too, his amazing teamwork at the end played a huge part in the win and it was great to share the moment with him. I can’t be thankful enough for the team’s work and support and it’s all paid off today. A big thanks as well to everyone at Enstone and Viry – this is for you!
It was a very long race, very tough, and we were fighting all the way through. The start was key – I was a bit unlucky and lost some positions, but some were even unluckier than me. It compromised our race a little, however, the top five is the best result of the year for me so far, but winning the race for the team is the best result ever. Now we have quite some history on this track! My first victory came here with Renault in 2003, now Esteban has won as Alpine in 2021.
I am so happy for him and for the guys. Sometimes we have been unlucky but today was one of the lucky days and we have to maximise these opportunities. We can execute races close to perfection if luck is with us. We’ve been up and down, but we can now look forward to the future and repeat the success of the past. These boosts motivate us, and we can go into the break with a smile on our faces.
Marcin Budkowski, Executive Director:
What an incredible result, the first win for Esteban and for Alpine F1 Team. Esteban was unbelievable today, huge congratulations to him for his first Grand Prix victory. It was a stressful race and it felt incredibly long. We put ourselves in a great position at the start, made the right calls during the race, the pit crew executed two perfect pit stops and then it was about holding all the way to the end.
We knew Lewis [Hamilton] would be a threat in the last laps, but we must pay huge credit to Fernando for fighting hard to defend against him, as this helped a lot to protect Esteban’s position. We’ve seen crazy races in the past and it’s about being there to capitalise on any opportunity and today we did just that. I’m so proud of this team today, not only here at the track but also at Enstone and Viry, this is the reward for their hard work over the last few years. Let’s savour this win, it will give us the appetite for many more.
Laurent Rossi, Chief Executive Officer, Alpine:
I am incredibly proud and delighted with this result; for Esteban, for Alpine, for Renault Group, for Fernando and for the teams across the UK and France that have worked tirelessly to deliver the first victory for Alpine. Everyone has shown great resilience, dedication and passion to get this result – it was great teamwork all around, especially for Fernando and his incredible fighting spirit. We are humbled by standing on the podium amongst the giants of this amazingly competitive sport. It has been an incredible week; we started with the opening of our Alpine dealership in Hungary, marked Fernando’s birthday and now we finish with a double French victory! We can celebrate this now and use it as inspiration for further success as we carry on the Alpine journey well into the future.