Ocon hurting but warns Alpine will be ‘dangerous’ with better car

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Ocon hurting but warns Alpine will be ‘dangerous’ with better car

Formula 1

Ocon hurting but warns Alpine will be ‘dangerous’ with better car

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Esteban Ocon believes Alpine has shown it will be a threat when it has a quicker car after coming agonizingly close to a podium in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The Frenchman qualified in the top 10 and took advantage of the first red flag interruption to start near the front for a chaotic second restart, emerging in second between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. Verstappen then dropped to third for the next grid start, promoting Ocon to pole, and though he quickly dropped behind the title contenders he ran in the final podium position until Valtteri Bottas out-dragged him to the line by 0.1s on the last lap.

“It’s difficult feelings right now, we gave it all in that race, clearly,” Ocon said. “It’s a frustrating end of course because we had that third place for the whole race. The team did an amazing job, the car was spot on, but we’re fighting in a different league compared to Mercedes.

“To lose that third place less than 10 seconds from the line is very frustrating, but it’s the plan as Fernando (Alonso) would call it. We are getting there, we are getting where we want. We extract the maximum out of the car and once we have that pace that the others have, we are going to be dangerous, and that’s what we are working towards.

“I am extremely proud of all the staff, all the decisions we took. Everything was mega, spot on, but it’s a difficult end obviously.”

After he was caught in light contact with Hamilton when going three-wide alongside Verstappen on the second restart, Ocon was surprised by how aggressive the two title rivals were as he was set to let them push on in the fight for victory.

“I was going to take any opportunity I could, for sure. There was a lot of contact in that race but the first two starts I gained four places. Each time I was getting two positions until the last one when I had a little bit older tires, but I was not fighting against Lewis and Max, I knew that. I let them go and they did their own race, but from then it was the aim to keep third place and we did that until far into the race. Next time…”

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