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Ocon enjoys ‘karting battle’ with Hamilton as Alpine reclaim P4 from McLaren with Suzuka points haul

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Esteban Ocon has explained how racing with Lewis Hamilton during the Japanese Grand Prix took him back to his karting days, as he reflected on a fight that was “a lot of fun”.

Alpine driver Ocon came under attack from Mercedes rival Hamilton in the restarted, rain-shortened race but defended smartly to keep the seven-time world champion at bay and hold on for fourth position – crossing the line just over half a second clear.

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Reflecting on a wet and wild afternoon at Suzuka, Ocon said: “It’s very good that we’ve scored that many points. It was looking like we had nothing in the beginning, you know – there was no racing, the weather was really bad.

“Eventually, [the rainfall] reduced. I was still not confident that we would be able to go [racing again], but the track did clear quite quickly and it was good to finally get going.

Esteban Ocon: Hamilton battle for P4 was ‘a lot of fun’

“From there on, the fighting with Lewis, I enjoyed it a lot – it was a lot of fun. It was a bit of a karting battle, trying different lines; not one corner [was] I not watching my mirrors! It was definitely good fun [and] I’m very happy with the outcome.”

Ocon’s points, along with team mate Fernando Alonso’s seventh-place finish, mean Alpine are now back in P4 in the constructors’ standings with four races to run this season – 13 points clear of rivals McLaren.

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After a non-score for the team in Italy and a double retirement in Singapore, Ocon hailed the importance of their Japanese GP result – with Alpine senior management also in attendance over the weekend.

“It's been great. It was only a matter of time until we could really show what the car was capable of, and I think finally we’ve done it. We brought the update to Singapore, it was not really working, [at] Monza we had issues. But when we are [there] in the end, it is there,” he added.

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