Esteban Ocon admitted that the Sahara Force India F1 Team have “quite a lot of work to be done” if they are to be competitive at the French Grand Prix.
Ocon failed to make it into the top ten in both Free Practice 1 and 2 at the Circuit Paul Ricard and saw his team-mate Sergio Pérez dart off the track after losing his left rear wheel in the day’s second session, an issue that was caused by a bolt coming loose and triggered a brief red flag.
Disappointment aside, Ocon told of his joy in driving at a home Grand Prix, revealing that he has long had an eye on this weekend.
“Driving a Formula One car at home felt very special,” beamed Ocon. “I have been looking forward to this moment for a long time and I really enjoyed those first few laps.”
Ocon flat-spotted his tyres in FP1 when exploring the limits of a track that has had emergency repairs made to it in recent weeks, due to damage caused by the visit of the Blancpain GT Series. The 21-year-old also explained that Force India temporarily withdrew him from the afternoon’s session until they had found the root cause of the problem that ended Pérez’s day.
“Unfortunately it wasn’t the smoothest day for us,” he bemoaned. “I lost about 20 minutes of track time in first practice because I flat-spotted my tyres.
“Then, in second practice, we had to understand what happened to Sergio’s car before I could go back out.”
The lost time means that Force India start tomorrow’s running on the back foot and Ocon acknowledged that, ceding that there is plenty of work to be done on setup before he can be content with the balance. He said that the remedy was getting as much running in as possible before Qualifying in tomorrow’s one hour final Practice session.
“There is quite a lot of work to be done before I can say I am happy with the car.
“On a new track you need as many laps as possible and we suffered a bit today. We need to try and make up for the lost time and find a good direction for tomorrow.”