Esteban Ocon was denied a podium finish within the last one hundred metres of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with Valtteri Bottas getting by in sight of the finish line.
The Alpine F1 Team racer was involved in the battle for the podium as soon as he opted not to pit under the first safety car at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, and he even started the second restart from pole position after inheriting the place when Max Verstappen was told to start behind Lewis Hamilton.
Ocon might have lost the lead at the first corner of the restart, but he was easily able to hold onto third ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, but once Ricciardo was passed by Bottas, the job became much harder, and the final lap proved one lap too many for the Frenchman as the Finn out-dragged him on the run to the finish line.
“I gave it my all today,” said Ocon. “The competitor inside of me is disappointed to miss out on the podium by such a short distance, but I’m very proud of the whole team today.
“What we achieved is outstanding and to take fourth place and add 12 more points in the bag in the championship is what counts. We took the right decisions in the race; we did everything we could on track and on strategy at the right moments, which put us in the best possible position to take big points.
“It was quite fun to start on pole position too – I’ve not done that since 2015 in GP3 – but I knew my race was not with Lewis and Max in front. That said, the opportunity was there today and we can leave here with our heads high and feeling very proud.
“We move onto Abu Dhabi ready to finish the season on a high and take any opportunity that might come up.”
“When the first red flag was waved the race was over for us” – Fernando Alonso
Team-mate Fernando Alonso felt his chances of points disappeared when the red flag fell after Schumacher’s crash, with his pit stop just prior to the stoppage putting him behind those who benefitted from changing their tyres during it.
The Spaniard did question the decision not to put out the full safety car midway through the race as debris was strewn between the walls in Saudi Arabia, with the virtual safety car being relied upon instead.
However, Alonso ended the day outside the points in thirteenth, while he feels a top six position could have been his but for the red flag.
“It was a crazy race tonight,” said Alonso. “I think when the first red flag was waved the race was over for us. We opted to stop and were in a very good position, and realistically we could have been fifth or sixth had it all fallen into place.
“They stopped the race and we were very unlucky there. Every time there seems to be a red flag or a situation like that we are on the wrong side of things. I think it was a bit dangerous racing amongst all the debris today and to not have a full Safety Car.
“Nothing happened in the end which was good. We scored good points with Esteban today, but we need to make sure our pace is back for Abu Dhabi and we end the season on a positive.”