Sahara Force India F1 Team driver Esteban Ocon is hoping that his sixth place finish in the Monaco Grand Prix is the start of a run of good results, following a difficult start to the season.
Force India’s turbulent performance so far has included one podium position – Sergio Pérez‘s third place in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix – and two retirements – Ocon in the same Azerbaijan Grand Prix and in the next race, the Spanish Grand Prix. This has left the team with just four points finishes in the first six races of the season, down from ten points finishes in the same period of the 2017 season.
Adding to the team’s woes is the sudden resignation of team director Vijay Mallya, the owner of the team since 2007 and the namesake of their VJM11 car.
Despite the on and off-track battles the team is going through, Ocon was able to put in his best performance of the year in at Monaco, taking a strong sixth place ahead of a hard-charging Pierre Gasly.
Speaking after the race and before Mallya’s shock announcement, Ocon said that whilst it hadn’t been an easy start to the year, he hopes that their newfound pace will carry on through the next few races.
“It hasn’t been an easy start, but with the pace [on Sunday] we have I think we can carry that over the next weekends.”
Commenting on their pace through the weekend, Ocon said that their speed compared to bigger teams like Scuderia Ferrari and Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport (who supply Force India with their engines) was particularly strong, and was helped by an understanding of the tyres.
“The pace we had in the car was unbelievable.
“I was quickest on track at some points which was very, very impressive. I was catching Raikkonen and Bottas by one second a lap at some point.
“I think our understanding of the tyres was really really good, really strong. Today I’m more than happy, the boys are really happy, and I’m looking forward to many more weekends like that.”