Ocon – Mexican Grand Prix was my worst F1 race ever
When Esteban Ocon prepared to get off the line in Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix, the target was clear for the Force India driver: secure a points finish. But within a matter of corners, his race was compromised after a collision with Nico Hulkenberg. He later clashed with Brendon Hartley, ultimately coming home in P11 – and afterwards he labelled the race ‘the worst of his Formula 1 career so far’…
Force India rolled the dice in qualifying and opted against fighting for a Q3 appearance, with Ocon securing 11th on the grid, giving him free choice of tyres for the race. With the four cars in front of him – both Saubers and Renaults - on hypersofts, the Frenchman had every chance of delivering a result for his team.
He enjoyed a fantastic start too, passing both Saubers on the run down to Turn 1. But then he collided with Renault's Hulkenberg, breaking his front wing. He was forced to pit, dropping him to the back of the pack, and a later collision with Toro Rosso’s Hartley added to his frustrations.
“This has been probably the worst race of my whole Formula 1 career so far,” said Ocon following what proved to be a tough afternoon in Mexico City.
“Nothing went our way and it’s just been a terrible afternoon. I made a very good start, managed to pass the two Saubers on the run down to turn one, but that’s pretty much the only positive to take from today.
“I went alongside Nico [Hulkenberg] in Turn 3 but I saw he was going to turn in. I braked to avoid a collision, but we still made contact and it broke my front wing. I had to pit at the end of the first lap and my race was effectively over.
“It’s a shame because we had a good strategy and a fast car, but today was not our day. Let’s just forget about this race and come back stronger in Brazil.”
It was a tough day for team mate Sergio Perez too, with the Mexican driver suffering a heartbreaking retirement in front of his home fans – and Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer was unhappy to see his Silverstone squad fail to make the top ten.
“A hugely disappointing afternoon for the team and definitely a missed opportunity to score important points,” said Szafnauer. “The strategy we had prepared for yesterday was playing into our hands with Sergio until a brake seal failure forced us to retire the car on lap 38.
“Up until that moment, Sergio was comfortably running in the points and looked set for sixth or seventh place. On the other side of the garage, Esteban had a scruffy race with contact on lap one destroying any chance of points.
“Hulkenberg closed the door in Turn 3 and that damaged the front wing. It was a real shame because Esteban only needed to stay out of trouble on lap one and the strategy would have seen him finish well inside the points.”