Esteban Ocon says it was easier leading the Hungarian Grand Prix than fighting in the midfield as he is used to for Alpine.
The Frenchman took the first victory of his Formula 1 career in the chaotic race at the Hungaroring last Sunday, leading from the moment Lewis Hamilton had to pit for slick tires on lap five. He was pushed hard by Sebastian Vettel the whole way but despite it being his first win since the opening round of the 2015 GP3 season, Ocon said it wasn’t a difficult position to be in.
“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,” Ocon 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.
“And in the end we just made everything perfect from the start, which was a difficult decision, because Lewis normally doesn’t take wrong decisions — 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.”
Leading a race isn’t the only thing that Ocon is finding comfortable this season, saying his partnership with Fernando Alonso has also been far better than people were warning him it would be.
“It’s been awesome to work with Fernando, since the beginning of the year. We are forming a real shock duo, I would say. We are pushing the team to try to improve and get close to the pack in front. Everybody told me a lot of things about Fernando before I came but everything is wrong and I can tell you he is a fantastic guy inside working and I am really enjoying the collaboration we have together.”