Esteban Ocon believes that the Racing Point Force India F1 Team will have the pace to return to the points paying positions after a disastrous end to their Singapore Grand Prix weekend.
Despite both cars qualifying in the top ten two weeks’ ago, neither Ocon or team-mate Sergio Pérez scored points at the Marina Bay Street Circuit. Ocon was eliminated after just three corners following contact with Pérez, before the Mexican’s manic decision when fighting Sergey Sirotkin saw him lumbered with a penalty – ending up in a lowly sixteenth.
The fall out from Singapore saw team principal and CEO, Otmar Szafnauer, threaten to reinforce the embargo placed on the pair towards the end of 2017 in order to prevent further clashes from happening.
Ocon looked back on Singapore with regret, knowing that Force India had “the pace to score well”, but insists that the team are in with a fantastic chance of rectifying the situation in this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.
“We had a terrible weekend in Singapore, leaving empty-handed despite having a great car and the pace to score well,” he said. “So I am determined to bounce back immediately in Russia.
“We have made some improvements with our upgrades so I think we will be competitive once again in Sochi. We can score points with both cars and we will work hard to achieve this.”
The young Frenchman has a good record at the Sochi Autodrom, having taken second place finishes in both GP3 Series races in 2015. In addition to this, the 2017 weekend saw Ocon reach Qualifying 3 for the first time in his Formula 1 career.
No rain is currently scheduled to hit Sochi over the course of the weekend, but Ocon remains assured in Force India’s pace in wet and dry conditions; targeting a top ten qualifying and race finish.
“I enjoy the Sochi track: it’s going to be the third time I will have raced there,” Ocon added.
“I had a very successful weekend there in GP3 and last year it was the place where I made it into Q3 for the first time in Formula One. Those are some good memories and hopefully we will have more of them when we return.
“The weather can be a bit uncertain at this time of year, but I think we can be strong if it’s wet or dry.
“The target is to be in the top ten in both qualifying and the race, and hopefully we can be the best of the rest.”
Ocon’s F1 future beyond 2018 remains in serious doubt, with Williams Martini Racing being the most likely suitors.