“When I crossed the line I felt like ‘wow there's not a lot left in there’.” That was Esteban Ocon’s assessment of his Austin qualifying heroics, and understandably so, after the Force India star finished just 0.070s ahead of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg to finish ‘best of the rest' on Saturday.
Force India have enjoyed a positive run since changing ownership ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix, securing 43 points after their tally was reset, and that form could well continue this weekend, with Ocon pushing his VJM11 challenger to its limits in qualifying.
Ocon certainly has a great chance to deliver a result, given the only cars in front of him are the Mercedes, the Ferraris and the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo. And it was a morale-boosting personal achievement for the Frenchman, who could miss out on an F1 seat next season.
“I am really happy with our performance today. It’s awesome to be sixth on the grid – the best of the rest – but it was a really close session all the way through.
“In Q3, my lap was very strong and the car was working really well. Tomorrow the aim is to stay where we are and bring home the points. The race pace is a bit unknown because of the wet weather yesterday but I think we can be just as competitive tomorrow.
“It was definitely a good feeling, that last lap, the car was working really well and when I crossed the line I felt ‘wow there's not a lot left in there’. It was enough for P6 so today we are really happy.
“The only thing I can do is do my talking on track, that is what I try to do. My motivation is as high as it can be and I'm pushing hard.”