Esteban Ocon talks about losing third place to Valtteri Bottas in F1 Saudi Arabian GP as he notes the damage from Lewis Hamilton did play a role.
Alpine’s Ocon found himself in a solid position after a decent qualifying in F1 Saudi Arabian GP. A long first stint eventually helped him as red flag got him to change tyres without pitting and in prime position to capture on mis-happenings a the front.
He did so too. A feisty Turn 1 between Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton on first re-start helped him to start on pole for the second re-start. It wasn’t the cleanest run as he found himself on the outside into the corner.
He actually touched with Hamilton on his left as Verstappen took the inside line on the kerb to take the lead. It was clumsy but the Dutchman had the lead while Ocon was third with some damage behind the Brit, who also lost his endplate.
From then on, Ocon maintained third until Mercedes’ Bottas arrived after he got through McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo. For a moment it looked like the Frenchman could fend him off but a performance dip on his side made it difficult for him to hold him off.
It so happened that Bottas passed Ocon on the line to snatch third and a second podium for the Frenchman. Post-race, he explained how he tried to lost performance as the race progressed after the loss of parts on his car eventually started causing issues.
“There’s a couple of things with those last two laps,” said Ocon to written media. “We suddenly lost quite a lot of performance in the last two. There’s been quite a lot of contact in that race, obviously in the start of the first start. So, the first contact with Tsunoda, the contact with Lewis and we lost a big chunk of the floor two laps to the end.
“So, I was quite a lot slower and lost quite a lot of my rear brake and I thought it was just my degradation going. We had to use a lot of our battery to keep Valtteri behind and arriving to the flag we basically derated so we hybrid left. That’s why we couldn’t keep him more behind. It’s a shame that we lost that performance in the last two laps.
“But we can’t have everything obviously. I’m trying to do all the scenarios in my head again, but we were really down in performance in those last two laps as I said. Maybe I could have used the energy on the exit of the last corner, instead of using it before 27. There was a couple things we could have thought about doing different.
“But in the end it’s not realistic to fight against a Mercedes we are not yet in the same league as I said but we are pushing to be in the same league,” summed up Ocon, who was pretty surprised by the aggression from both Verstappen and Hamilton at the start and he had to be cautious of not ruining his own race.
“I thought they were going to be aggressive but not with me I have to say,” smiled Ocon. “I thought they were going to be aggressive with each other, but they hit me as well! In the same moment. I mean I was expecting it to be a tough fight for sure in the first couple of corners, I never had the intention of keeping them behind anyway.
“I knew they were going to be a lot faster so I let Max, well and Lewis go, both of them. Not really trying to ruin my time in the race I was trying to do the fastest time I could, and that was the best way I could do so, but after that yeah, we needed to keep that third place,” summed up Ocon, whose result further solidifies P5 for Alpine.
On Bottas’ side, it wasn’t outright clean runs as he did lose places after losing out under red flag. He had to fight back into the Top 3 which he did to actually secure third place in the drivers’ standings from Sergio Perez, while also helped Mercedes with good points to win the constructors’ championship for 2021.
“It was not an easy day,” said Bottas. “There were many obstacles and obviously with the red flags and everything made it a bit tricky and with the first red flag being on the hard tyre that was a mistake I think. Some of the guys with the medium tyre got me but then I got the medium after and it was OK. I just kept pushing. It wasn’t easy to overtake today but finally on the last straight I got third.
“It was definitely was an exciting finish, and it was really close, obviously. It was, to be honest. It was harder to get by Ocon than I thought it would be. He actually was driving really well and they were quite fast, and also before that I was stuck behind Daniel for a long time, which made me consume my tyres quite a lot.
“So actually my front-right tyre was pretty finished, so that made it even more tricky but yeah, once I dropped to fifth on the first restart, I knew that it was going to be all about being patient and eventually getting there, whatever is going to be possible. It was a bit closer than I thought, but made it,” summed up Bottas.
Here’s Esteban Ocon and Yuki Tsunoda cloash: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/video.2021-saudi-arabian-grand-prix-ocon-and-tsunoda-clash-during-race-start.1718396615484336681.html
Here’s Esteban Ocon losing out to Valtteri Bottas: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/video.2021-saudi-arabian-grand-prix-ocon-pipped-for-p3-by-bottas.1718395191839116175.html
Here’s all what was said by Mercedes and Red Bull duo plus FIA