Alpine’s Esteban Ocon says his shock win in the Hungarian Grand Prix left him with the impression that it’s easier to fight at the front than in the thick of F1’s midfield.
Ocon made the most of the chaos that unfolded at the start of the race at the Hungaroring, surviving the first corner melee and than inheriting the lead on the restart after a strategy error in the Mercedes camp forced Lewis Hamilton to pit for slick tyres on the second lap.
But thereafter, for 67 laps, the Frenchman didn’t put a foot wrong, despite the omnipresence close behind from start to finish of Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel.
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Well all was said and done, Ocon admitted that holding his own up front hadn’t been particularly difficult.
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“I didn’t feel rusty and I’m sorry to disappoint but it’s easier to fight at the front like we did, to manage the opponents that are behind, than to fight in the midfield how we are doing,” he said.
“The whole time in Formula 1 I had pretty good training — the fight in the midfield is a lot tougher than what’s happening in the front.
“It was hard with Seb putting a lot of pressure — he gave me a hard time but you know, when you are ahead, you have clean air. You are the one who is dictating the pace on such a track.”
Ocon said the decision to pit after the formation lap before the restart wasn’t on either call, especially as it went against the choice of Mercedes and its seven-time world champion.
“In the end we just made everything perfect from the start, which was a difficult decision, because Lewis normally doesn’t take wrong decisions,” he said.
“I’ve never seen him taking a wrong decision, so to box when you are P2 on the road, it’s a bit heart-breaking at first, but glad that we did it because we were a long way ahead and the guys did a great pit stop as well.”
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