Anything can happen in Monaco, even at the sharp end of the grid – and if it does on Sunday, Force India’s Esteban Ocon believes he could be ideally positioned to pick up the pieces.
That’s after the Frenchman put in his best qualifying performance of the year so far to secure sixth on the grid behind the big three teams.
“Today we proved we are the strength of the paddock,” said Ocon. “You know, with the resource we have, the money we have, the budget we have – and once again we come back and be ‘first of the others’.
“It is fantastic to see and you know and it is just fantastic for me to be working in this team – I enjoy every second with these professional people and today, you know, we start in a perfect position to look ahead.”
Ocon has yet to finish on an F1 podium – fifth places in Spain and Mexico last year are his best results to date – but he conceded it’s not entirely out of the question on Sunday, should those ahead hit trouble.
“It's always in my dream you know, that podium of course, but if nothing happens it’s going to be very hard – but we are in the perfect position to think about it!”
Adding to Ocon’s satisfaction was the fact that he out-qualified more experienced team mate Sergio Perez – who finished on the podium here with Force India in 2016 – by a tenth of a second.
Yes, it’s a small margin, but with the Monaco field so tight, it means he will start three places higher on the grid than his Mexican colleague, who qualified in his lowest slot in the Principality since 2014.
Ocon finished 12th in Monaco last year, having started his maiden race at the street venue from 15th, while Perez came home a place behind in 13th, from seventh on the grid.