Esteban Ocon was left speechless after F1 Monaco GP podium which he expects more of, as he talks of battle with Carlos Sainz.
It was a lap which surprised many on Saturday as Alpine’s Ocon delivered when mattered with a storming run to be fourth after being at provisional pole at one time. The Frenchman gained a place due to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc’s penalty eventually.
He started off well but was hounded by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz in the first stint which included a bump moment at the exit of tunnel, but Ocon continued and survived the rain conditions to be on the podium – the first of F1 2023 for Alpine.
The podium came at a time when Alpine chief Laurent Rossi blasted them for lack of results and motivation. It left Ocon speechless and rightly so. “It’s been a while, feels good, I can tell you that,” he said. “I’m speechless at the moment. I’m a little bit on my cloud still.
“You know, before the weekend, if you told us that we are going to be in the top 10, we would have been happy. It would have been a strong weekend. But we are not in the top 10, we are not in the top five, we are on the podium this weekend here in Monaco.
“And yeah, that shows really that never stopped believing. You know, we had a difficult start to the season but from the first session, I felt strong in the car, felt confident at the wheel. I was able to push, session after sessions, closer to the limit than I’m usually doing in Monaco. And, and yeah, I mean, that allowed me to do the lap I did, which is obviously 90 per cent of the job – normally – in Monaco.
“But it was not really the case in the race. It has been a little bit of a harder race. We hold that podium for a while, we had it secure but you know, I got a touch from Carlos at one stage, got damage on the on the back of the car. And then the rain shuffled everything again, and we had to choose to take the Inters at the right time. And we did so.
“And from there on I was under a huge amount of pressure from Lewis. We seems to be always the two fighting together when the conditions are like that! So yeah, we know each other well in those conditions. And yeah, until the last lap, he was pushing flat-out. He was quicker in the wet section from Five to Eight, and I was quicker on the dry sections.
“But yeah, it’s been an incredibly tough race to get under control but the reward is immense. So, I’m extremely pleased,” summed up Ocon, who admitted surprise with the pace of Alpine despite banking on it with updates on their car.
“I think, as soon as we put it down from the simulator days, really to all the practice sessions, we’ve been improving step-by-step and never stopping doing it,” said Ocon. “And it’s been a very different weekend compared to my usual Monaco weekends, where I was not afraid to go close to the walls very early. And that’s what we’ve done.
“And yeah, extremely surprised us for sure. I think we should keep feet to the ground at the moment. Obviously, we’re on the podium here, we will enjoy all together. And yeah, I want to thank all the team, obviously Enstone, Viry, the team on-site here. That podium, not win, not yet! That podium is all for them.
“But yeah, Barcelona is going to be a very different characteristic. A track that everyone knows and a good test for us to see where we are exactly,” summed up Ocon. Considering the bump they got from Rossi, the team needed a result like Monaco to charge up and the Frenchman is expecting more their way in the future.
“Why everyone’s delighted, that’s for sure,” said Ocon. “Formula 1 is unpredictable. You don’t know what’s going to happen and at the moment how tight the field is, a little bit more pace can change your weekend completely. And, and yeah, this weekend, it’s been an awesome one, an awesome preparation and yeah, as I keep saying, we keep pushing, we don’t stop believing and hopefully that’s the first podium of many.”
Here’s moment between Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/video.2023-monaco-grand-prix-sainz-clips-ocon-after-trying-an-overtaking-move-at-the-chicane.1767145347716431696.html
Here’s how F1 Monaco GP panned out