Ocon ‘very surprised’ by McLaren pace in Bahrain as he vows to keep Renault in fight for P3
After qualifying an impressive sixth and seventh for the Bahrain Grand Prix, Renault drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon were left to come home seventh and ninth, having spent much of the race fighting each other – and having had no answer to the pace of their McLaren customer team in Sakhir.
Despite running different strategies in the race, Ricciardo and Ocon several times found themselves on the same part of the racetrack fighting one another throughout the Grand Prix, with Ricciardo at one point radioing the team to ask “why are we racing each other?” – after which he was let through by Ocon.
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But with both drivers passed during the evening by the Renault-powered McLaren pair of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz – who started ninth and 15th but ended up fourth and fifth at the flag – Ocon was left perplexed by Renault’s pace shortfall compared to the McLarens.
“I think we have plenty to review because we were not as fast as the McLaren today,” said Ocon. “Our strategy on my side was not the optimum one, with having two mediums. From there on, it compromised us a little bit, and overall the pace was not as strong, so we will review and come back stronger at the next one.
“[The McLarens] had a much stronger day today than they had yesterday, so it’s very surprising,” he added. “But it’s not over yet. There’s two more to go and things can turn very quickly, so we’ll see. But on the short circuit [that will be used for the Sakhir Grand Prix], we could have a great chance again, and great performance.”
McLaren’s strong evening in Bahrain moved them to third in the constructors’ standings, which they now head by 17 points from Racing Point – who failed to score in the Grand Prix – and 27 points from fifth-placed Renault.
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And Renault Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul described what he’d witnessed from his squad on race day in Bahrain as “disappointing”, after the team came away with just eight points.
“After a very promising qualifying with both drivers into the top 10 on medium tyres… this race is clearly disappointing,” said Abiteboul. “We lost positions during the two starts, the first with Esteban and the second with Daniel, which hampered our race and impacted our strategy with early stops.
“In the second stint, both cars failed to find the pace and we will have to understand why. By the end of the race, Daniel was on the pace again and would have finished sixth without the Safety Car intervention.
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“The final result of this weekend is not up to our ambitions and we need to regroup very quickly for the last two races.”