'I thought it was over' admits Ocon as he describes 'pedal to metal' Q3 lap at Jeddah
Esteban Ocon said he left nothing on the table after qualifying on the third row for Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Ocon almost hitting the walls of Jeddah Corniche Circuit en route to what will be a P6 start alongside Aston Martin's Lance Stroll.
One-time Grand Prix winner Ocon was still catching his breath as he shared his thoughts after qualifying, which for him included some very near misses in Q3.
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“It was a very good qualifying. I’m pretty pleased with how we managed in general from FP3 to qualifying. We really turned the car around and improved a lot. But you know, what a hell of a challenge it is here,” he said.
“I’m still breathing [heavily] because the amount of risks you need to take on a qualifying lap getting close to the walls – I touched the wall twice on my last lap and I thought it was over. I really banged the wall hard. I kept the pedal to metal to see what happens but that doesn’t feel right. Realising now, [it’s] all good, we’ve done well – hopefully we can have a strong day tomorrow.”
As for Gasly, he qualified ninth, on the fifth row alongside the Haas of Nico Hulkenberg. The former AlphaTauri driver said it was a “tough afternoon” in the Alpine – although he admitted that he could have done far worse than securing his first Q3 appearance for his new team.
“It’s been a tough afternoon, I’m not going to lie. Just really couldn’t switch on the tyre and get everything together. Still pleased to be in Q3, but just could not extract everything from the car. Some more work to do but... we start P9 tomorrow, so still a decent place to be in and we will try to make our way up,” he said.
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“We will fight for every single position we have but I’m more looking ahead and we will try to catch the train in front of us,” concluded Gasly.
In his Alpine debut at Bahrain, Gasly managed to pick up 11 places from last on the grid to deliver the team their first points of the season – and on Sunday in Jeddah, both Alpine drivers start in the top 10 as they look to add to that tally.