Ocon: Sixth maximum despite podium hopes
4 September 2017 – Esteban Ocon believes sixth position was the maximum result possible for Force India at the Italian Grand Prix, despite holding hopes of claiming his maiden Formula 1 podium.
Ocon qualified in fifth position in wet conditions on Saturday, moving up to third place on the grid as a result of penalties for Red Bull pair Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.
He jumped ahead of Lance Stroll into the Rettifilo chicane on the opening lap to hold second, but was soon overhauled by Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel.
Kimi Räikkönen moved clear after the pit-stop phase, while Daniel Ricciardo's alternative strategy enabled him to overhaul the Force India driver, who came home sixth.
"I really enjoyed the race and I'm happy with our performance," said Ocon.
"At the same time I'm a little disappointed because I really wanted to finish on the podium.
"But you have to be realistic and we didn't have the pace to match Mercedes and Ferrari, so I think sixth place was the maximum we could achieve.
"At one stage we were racing against Räikkönen and I thought we could keep him behind, but he was just too quick.
"I also had a good battle with Stroll for most of the race and I had to work hard to keep him behind me."
Sergio Pérez, meanwhile, claimed ninth spot, but felt that a tardy pit-stop wrecked his chances of passing both Williams drivers.
"The car felt good and I was strong in the first stint, despite some damage picked up at Turn 2, but things got more difficult after the pit-stop," he said.
"We had a slow stop and I got stuck in traffic: I think I lost a couple of seconds and that's what made the difference between us and Williams.
"We gave everything to get back to them, but we ran out of laps to pass them. Perhaps with two extra laps I would have made it, but that's racing."
Ocon is now just three points behind Pérez in the championship.