Esteban Ocon took his first points finish of 2018 last weekend in Bahrain, with the Frenchman feeling his Sahara Force India F1 Team has already made progress with their VJM11.
The opening round of the season in Australia was a big disappointment for the team that has finished fourth in the Constructors’ Championship for the past two seasons, with Ocon and team-mate Sergio Perez well outside the points, but for Ocon at least, Bahrain was better, and he clinched his first point of the year with a tenth place finish.
“A point in Bahrain was a nice reward after a really intense weekend,” said Ocon. “We learned a huge amount and we’ve taken a step forward with the car.
“I enjoyed the race because I had some good battles and I couldn’t relax for a moment. It always feels great when you overtake somebody in the final laps, especially when it moves you back into the points.”
Ocon also secured a tenth place finish in his first Chinese Grand Prix last season, and felt it was a great experience for him, especially with the fans showing him great support all weekend long.
“I’ve only raced at Shanghai once so far, but last year was a good experience,” admitted the Frenchman. “The fans are great and they show support for all the drivers.
“Last year I received lots of gifts so your bags are always a bit heavier on the return flight!”
Ocon feels the Shanghai International Circuit is a difficult one to get right, but believes it is important to attack the corners rather than being smooth, but with extra confidence from his performance in Bahrain and more updates being brought to the car this weekend, he goes there looking for more points.
“It’s a tough circuit, as I found out last year, with some unusual corners and it’s not easy to hook up the perfect lap,” said Ocon. “You have to really attack the lap, rather than being smooth, and use the kerbs. Overtaking is possible, but it’s still difficult. You can sometimes find opportunities in turn six and also at the end of the back straight.
“The secret to being quick in Shanghai is the same as anywhere. It’s about building your confidence with the car through all the sessions. The balance was pretty good in Bahrain and I’m feeling comfortable in the car.
“If we can just find a bit more speed we can consistently be up there in Q3 and racing for points. There are more updates coming to the car so it’s going to be another busy Friday.”