Esteban Ocon finished the Japanese Grand Prix in ninth position, but the Frenchman feels his Sunday was compromised by his grid penalty, earned when he was found to have exceeded the maximum delta time when running under red flag conditions during practice on Saturday morning.
The Racing Point Force India F1 Team racer initially qualified eighth during Saturday afternoon’s Qualifying session at the Suzuka International Racing Course but was handed a three-place penalty by the stewards, meaning he was forced to start down in eleventh but without a free choice of starting tyre.
Ocon felt Force India had the fourth fastest car in Japan, which was half proven by his team-mate Sergio Pérez finishing seventh, but he was left down in ninth behind Haas F1 Team racer Romain Grosjean.
He finished on his countryman’s tail but was unable to make a decisive move for position, but the two points he scored, coupled with the six scored by Pérez, moves Force India to within fifteen points of the McLaren F1 Team in sixth in the Constructors’ Championship with four races of the season remaining.
“The team scored some good points today, but I’m not totally happy because our final result was dictated by the penalty yesterday,” said Ocon. “We have shown great speed all weekend – as the fourth quickest team – but if we don’t start higher up it’s difficult to show it in the race.
“There were some fun moments today and I had to make a lot of overtaking moves. When you had fresh tyres there was a big pace advantage and our strategy paid off in the end.
“I was close to catching Grosjean during the final few laps, but there wasn’t a chance to make a move.”