Esteban Ocon: “I’m hoping it will come good in the race”


Esteban Ocon - Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Esteban Ocon got the better of the Manor Racing inter-team battle as the Frenchman qualified twenty-first for the Japanese Grand Prix on Saturday.

Despite finished ahead of Pascal Wehrlein, Ocon was disappointed not to be higher up the grid, with a mistake at turn fourteen on his final run costing him, with the Frenchman believing he could have got ahead of Sauber if the run had been clean.

“[There was] quite a bit more in the tank, unfortunately,” said Ocon. “I made a small mistake in Turn 14, which I’m pretty unhappy with, and which could have put us ahead of Sauber.

“So it was pretty tight with them and I feel bad for the guys because everything on my side has been strong this weekend. I hope to make it up to them in the race tomorrow.

“We’ve made good progress here that is not always easy for those outside to see, but I’m hoping it will come good in the race.”

Team-mate Wehrlein went into qualifying in the knowledge he would suffer a grid penalty for an overnight gearbox change, and more problems in final practice meant he was on the back foot without a qualification simulation, and ultimately ended up 0.208 seconds behind Ocon.

“Last night we had to change the gearbox, so I have a grid penalty,” said Wehrlein. “Then this morning we had another problem that meant I wasn’t able to complete my qualifying preparation; I didn’t get to finish my soft tyre run.

“So it’s difficult to find the positives in the weekend so far. I guess the grid penalty doesn’t affect us from where we’re starting, but it’s still pretty disappointing.

“I love the Suzuka track; it’s really nice and challenging, and the first sector in particular is awesome. It will be tough, but we need a good start, a good strategy, fast pit stops and some opportunities to come our way. We’ll push hard for a good result.”