Esteban Ocon remarked that he hopes Alpine discover damage to his car from the opening lap collision in the Sao Paulo Grand Prix after he encountered a “tricky” race.

Like many drivers, Ocon capitalised on Charles Leclerc’s misfortune plus Alex Albon and Kevin Magnussen’s incident on the run to Turn 1 to gain five places on the first lap.

But lining up ninth at the standing restart, Ocon was made to rue an unexpected clutch issue that saw him squander a position to team-mate Pierre Gasly before he was also passed by the AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda.

From there, Ocon encountered severe trouble with tyre degradation, resulting in him being the only driver to require three trips to the pits. The Frenchman would eventually trail home 10th, three places and 30s behind Gasly, who beat Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes.

“No, it hasn’t really worked out, clearly,” Ocon reflected. “Had a good first start, the second one we had a clutch problem so I lost out. The car went in two goes, so it sat right in the middle and then went again, so not great.

“And after that, we had more tyre wear than any other car around. That’s why we had to do three stops and we were the only one doing it, just because we have more deg than anybody else around.

“It was a bit of a tricky race, lacking pace, couldn’t push the whole race, had to manage the whole time. Hasn’t been a good one for us.”

Ocon admits that a three-stop strategy was a possibility discussed pre-race in the event that degradation evolved to be more excessive than originally anticipated.

Asked if his eventual pit plan had been on the radar, Ocon replied: “It was in case degradation was high. The Plan A was a two, obviously, but the degradation was high and we had to do three.”

Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A523. 05.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Race Day.

Gasly revealed post-race that Alpine had opted for a low downforce set-up at the cost of qualifying performance to mitigate its top-speed deficit in Sunday’s 71-lap grand prix.

While his team-mate was able to nurse his tyres onto the optimum two-stop strategy, Ocon concedes that he had been unable to push “more than 80 per cent” at any stage.

“The traction was very bad, I was making lots of damage as soon as I wanted to push and get some lap times,” Ocon explained. “There was not a single time where I could be driving more than 80 per cent. Yeah, it was a bit of a frustrating race.”

Aside from George Russell’s late retirement, Ocon also profited from the first-corner clash that took Albon out of the running and left both AlphaTauri’s Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren’s Oscar Piastri needing repairs that placed the duo a lap down from the restart.

“It was a three-way sandwich, like what happened with me in Qatar. Can’t do very much when these things happen. I’m glad I saw it coming, I moved to the left, but luckily no one’s hurt,” Ocon discussed.

Despite managing to avoid the debris to salvage a point, Ocon conceded he retained optimism that Alpine would uncover a wounded car to explain his lacklustre pace.

“There was a tyre [that had to be avoided], I don’t think there was any other damage, but hopefully there was because we’re not very quick,” he commented.

Source:  Read More 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *