Esteban Ocon says winning the Hungarian Grand Prix has now begun to sink in, but his focus now is on doing his best during this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.
The Alpine F1 Team driver was the surprise winner at the Hungaroring after capitalising on the first lap crash that eliminated a number of front runners and then Lewis Hamilton’s failure to pit at the restart following the red flag.
Ocon acknowledges it was a surprise for him to take the win in Hungary, but after enjoying the moment and the subsequent summer break, he is ready to get back into the cockpit and back to business this weekend in Belgium.
“I was not expecting to be entering this race after the summer break as the latest Formula 1 race winner!” said Ocon. “It’s still an incredibly special feeling and it was very well timed as I’ve spent the last couple of weeks relaxing with family and friends letting it sink in… I can tell you, it definitely feels real now!
“Now the time is to focus on restarting the season and that begins in Belgium. We enjoyed the moment in Hungary and, of course, repeating that feeling would be fantastic, but we will remain realistic and do our best for a strong result.
“The weather might be interesting so, if it’s dry or wet, we will be ready to take any opportunity”
Ocon has some good memories of racing at Spa-Francorchamps, including when he made his Formula 1 debut with the Manor F1 Team back in 2016. He is excited to return in 2021, although his thoughts, as with many in the paddock, will be with Anthoine Hubert, who tragically passed away at the circuit back in 2019.
“Spa is a very special place for me,” said the Frenchman. “I have some nice memories there like making my Formula 1 debut back in 2016, then qualifying in third place in 2018 in tricky conditions and even last year when, as a team, we finished fourth and fifth.
“Of course, it’s where we lost Anthoine and we will always race with him in our thoughts.
“It’s just a fantastic circuit, full of history and some amazing corners, especially in a modern Formula 1 car, like Raidillon, Pouhon and Blanchimont. The aim is to continue making more memories at this amazing track.”
“We’re targeting more of these memories in the future” – Fernando Alonso
Team-mate Fernando Alonso capped off an excellent Hungarian Grand Prix for Alpine by finishing fourth, and the veteran Spaniard admits it was nice to have a competitive car all weekend long at the Hungaroring.
Alonso knows that rain at the Hungaroring often brings exciting races, and to see the team take victory last time out was a fantastic result for Alpine, and he now wants them to push across the remaining races of the season so they can potentially have more success.
“It was a fantastic result for the team and for Esteban claiming his first win in Formula 1,” said Alonso. “We looked quite good all weekend and it was nice to see both cars in Q3 on Saturday.
“Then, when you mix rain and the Hungaroring usually you get some exciting results, and this is what happened on race day. We stayed calm throughout the entire race and executed a fantastic game plan.
“I was quite happy with fourth too and my best result of the season. As a team we’ve now had a taste of this success and we’re targeting more of these memories in the future.”
Alonso says the team have showed they can capitalise on opportunities with their result in Hungary, and with weather at Spa-Francorchamps often unpredictable, there could be another chance for Alpine to show what they can do this weekend.
“It’s a great circuit and a pleasure to race on in a Formula 1 car,” said Alonso of Spa-Francorchamps. “Taking Eau Rouge flat in these modern cars will be amazing.
“It’s quite a traditional circuit in a way and always provides a good race for the fans. The weather can sometimes be unpredictable, so we have to capitalise on any opportunity like how we did in Budapest.
“We have a busy triple header coming up with two traditional tracks in Spa and Monza, with a new one for Formula 1 in Zandvoort. Our aim is to score as many points as possible and build on the momentum and team spirit that we have shown from Hungary.”