Esteban Ocon has said that he is “very happy” with the progress the Sahara Force India F1 Team have made with the previously troublesome VJM11, after securing a season-best grid position in Monaco.
Ocon outperformed team-mate Sergio Pérez to take sixth on the grid, proving to the best non-Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, Scuderia Ferrari or Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport driver. It marked the third time the Frenchman has made it into the top ten this season and expressed his delight in his performance in “the most important Qualifying session of the year.”
“I’m feeling very happy,” beamed Ocon, vying for a potential drive at parent team Mercedes for 2019.
“Today we showed our strength as a team and we are sixth on the grid in Monaco. It’s the most important qualifying session of the year and we have a great opportunity to score good points tomorrow.”
Force India boss Vijay Mallya said that his team had “more to come” after showing an upturn in pace for the Azerbaijan and Spanish rounds, however the team reportedly sided against running their new front wing assembly for this race in fear of damaging it around the perilously narrow track.
Ocon praised the team for the obstacles – including a lack of rear end stability – they have overcome this season, as they look to salvage a chance of retaining their top four status in the Constructors’ Championship for the third year running. The 21-year-old added that his final attempt of the session “didn’t feel like [his] best” and is keen to remain grounded for the race.
“The team has done so much work to improve the car by bringing updates to each race and it’s really paying off,” he said.
“My lap in Q3 didn’t feel like my best of the weekend, but the car was working well and the lap time was there. I’m not getting carried away because there is a long way to go tomorrow.
“We still need to do a good job in the race, stay out of trouble and bring the car home.”