Esteban Ocon finished ahead of his team-mate for the second time this season and is pleased with the results of the Portuguese Grand Prix …
Question: What do you think about the results of the race?
Esteban Ocon: Not a bad race. The start was crazy. When we were standing on the starting field, it started to rain a little. I thought: “Wow! It’s high time! ” It was very slippery in several corners.
But I managed to drive a very long stretch on Medium. It’s great! I am very satisfied. The team and I worked well, and I drove over 50 laps on one set. It’s great that with each lap my pace improved. If both cars finished in the top ten on a track where we lacked speed, it means that even in difficult conditions we are able to achieve success.
Q: This is not the most successful weekend for the team, but one of the best for you, because you showed a good pace in training, qualification and race …
Esteban Ocon: I’m not sure if this is my best weekend. But, perhaps, we have never worked as smoothly as today. Let me give you a simple example. Sometimes I thought that I needed this or that information, and after 10 seconds the team would tell me it, although I didn’t even ask for it. We began to work much better, and it can be seen, we began to better prepare for the weekend. Although we did not perform as well as we expected, we did a lot better.
Question: Is it difficult to get the Soft rubber to work after a pit stop?
Esteban Ocon: I’m glad I only drove 12 laps on them. When I got back on the track, it took a long time to get the tires into working range, but I still couldn’t do it. The team hoped that I would get an increase in speed and try to impose a fight on the opponents in front, but nothing worked. There were a lot of oddities this weekend to deal with.
Q: Are you glad you finished ahead of Daniel Riccardo for the second time this season?
Esteban Ocon: I am glad that lately I have been closing the gap with Daniel. This shows that we are working more efficiently and are getting closer to the desired results. This is a good sign. It took me a long time to get used to the team and find a common language with it. But now everything is fine. We need to continue in the same spirit.
Q: The track configuration was not suitable for overtaking, but today we saw a lot of struggle. What is the reason for this?
Esteban Ocon: With the fact that today it was not easy for everyone. Everybody had problems because of tires, wind and slippery asphalt, so the race was interesting. Of course, the DRS zone helped a lot: it began after a quick turn, where you could get closer to your opponent.
Q: Returning to the conversation about progress in relation to Daniel: can you further reduce the gap in the remaining races? Next year you will have a difficult partner again …
Esteban Ocon: This is a long process. I missed the season, and when I returned to the race, I ended up in an unfamiliar team – I had to learn a lot, to understand a lot. I had to get used to a car that was very different from what I was used to. I understood all this and gradually narrowed the gap. There are still a few races ahead, but my personal goal is to get even closer to my partner. I want to use this opportunity to prepare for next year.
Q: Did you have a plan from the beginning to drive 53 laps on Medium tires, or did you make this decision during the race?
Esteban Ocon: We had a flexible approach. We did not plan that I would go 53 laps on one set, but when we saw that everything was going well, we decided to take a chance. Everything worked out.
Q: Why this weekend the team lacked speed compared to the German Grand Prix, where settings for high downforce are also needed? Is it related to track surface, temperature or more downforce?
Esteban Ocon: We need to figure this out. The configuration of the Algarve is similar to the Nürburgring, but when we entered the track, the car did not behave as well as it did last weekend. We had a lot more problems with the balance and with the rear of the car. We need to figure this out so that the problem does not repeat itself in the remaining races. We haven’t had so many balance problems since the Spanish Grand Prix. Although the configurations of these tracks are similar, this weekend we learned a lot, and when we figure it out, we will become stronger on this type of tracks.