Esteban Ocon says that both he and the Racing Point Force India F1 Team are up for a fight with the stalling McLaren F1 Team for sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship.
Just seven races after losing all the 2018 points scored in their previous Vijay Mallya-led guise, Force India have surpassed Williams Martini Racing, Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda and the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team to rise to seventh in the standings. Just 15 points separates Force India and McLaren with two rounds remaining in the season.
However, a meagre four points in the last two races between Ocon and team-mate Sergio Pérez have halted the team’s charge. Ocon managed to finish inside the top ten at the United States Grand Prix but was forced to surrender his race finish through disqualification due to fuel use irregularities.
In Mexico last time out, the Frenchman’s race was compromised by a first lap collision with Carlos Sainz Jr, leaving him to finish just outside the points in eleventh. Ocon, who is without a race seat for 2019 as it stands, spoke of his disappointment over the Mexican Grand Prix, believing that Force India had the pace and strategy to score points.
“I felt really disappointed after the Mexico race,” bemoaned Ocon. “When you have a quick car and your race is effectively over on lap one it’s so frustrating.
“I’ve learned from the experience in Mexico and will work hard to get back in the points this weekend. We need it for the championship because it’s still a close fight with McLaren – and it’s the same in the Drivers’ Championship.
“We will keep fighting until the end.”
Ocon sits just one point and one place behind McLaren’s Fernando Alonso in the championship, with an outside chance of overtaking Pérez for eighth position – needing a nine point swing over the Mexican. Achieving his first points finish in Brazil would be a solid start to his quest, as he aims to take inspiration from the “special” atmosphere at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace.
“I really enjoy racing in Brazil and it’s just a fun weekend,” he said.
“The atmosphere on the grid is special: the fans love Formula One and you can feel the legacy of Ayrton Senna everywhere. There is so much passion from the people, from the moment we land to the moment we leave – we get so much support.
“I have good memories of racing at Interlagos. In 2016 I was in the points in a Manor for most of the race and only got passed on the last lap,” he continued.
“It was a tough race because of the wet conditions. There is usually a risk of rain during the weekend and if we get some this year it would probably make things a bit more interesting.”
Rain is potentially on the cards in São Paulo on Saturday and Sunday, however it is yet to be confirmed that it will take place during any track running.
The 22-year-old said that finding a balance between downforce and straightline speed in key to Interlagos; too much wing and the drivers face hurting their top speed on the bumpy pit and back straights.
“The track itself is one of my favourites because you have all type of corners,” Ocon explained.
“You need a good car in the high-speed sections – a car you can trust – but at the same time you need a car that doesn’t slide around in the low-speed corners. This is very important, especially not to compromise the final part of the lap.”