Esteban Ocon: “I was really proud lining up on the grid”

Esteban Ocon - Credit: Manor Racing

Esteban Ocon completed his first Formula 1 Grand Prix in sixteenth position at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday, and the Frenchman admitted that he will remember this occasion for the rest of his life.

The teenage Manor Racing driver had stepped into the ride in place of Rio Haryanto during the summer break, and managed to finish ahead of the Sauber of Felipe Nasr, but admitted it was a tough baptism of fire due to the number of procedures he had to learn and remember during the race.

“I was really proud lining up on the grid and so proud to take the chequered flag,” admitted Ocon. “It’s a day I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

“It wasn’t an easy race, that’s for sure, but I’m very satisfied with my first Grand Prix. There were so many things happening in that first lap; it was crazy out there.

“It was hard for me to stay away from it all and at the same time push hard and fight for position. On top of that I had to remember all the procedures as well; it’s not difficult, it’s just remembering them in the heat of the moment and of course everything happens so much faster in F1.

“It was not easy to manage the red flag situation, but most importantly I’m glad Kevin seems to be okay. So I think we did the maximum with the car today and I’m happy with 16th position and finishing ahead of the Sauber.”

With a race worth of experience now under his belt, Ocon is eager for more, but admits he has work to do with regards to tyre management after struggles towards the end of each stint.

“I learned a lot about managing the race, particularly with all the different situations going on,” said Ocon. “This track is so high for degradation that it was also a really good test of tyre management; I’m very pleased with that because, really, we didn’t have the tyres left to push until the end.

“As for what next, well, I’m not tired, I could easily do another 24 hours! But, I guess I have to wait a week.

“There’s a lot to think about and reflect on, but I’m ready for Monza, where I want to work on Qualifying and make a good step forward. My thanks to everyone in the team for a great weekend and I’m so excited for the next one!”