The first Formula 1 visit to Miami threatened to be a great disappointment for Esteban Ocon. During Free Practice 3, he crashed into the concrete wall between turns 13 and 14, resulting in a 51g impact and significant damage to his Alpine. It also meant that Ocon missed qualifying, which put him in last place on the grid. With a new chassis, he managed a nice lead on Sunday, which was rewarded with eighth place and six World Championship points.
“I’m very happy, I think that’s a win for us today. We all faced a big challenge, but everything went perfectly: from the strategy to radio decisions to tire management,” Ocon recalled his race in Miami when asked by Motorsport.com. “And getting in the points when I’m physically at 50 percent feels like a win for me. It’s definitely a different challenge, it can go right or wrong. Sunday went well, but racing at 50 percent of my physical capacity is not recommended. In terms of humidity and heat, it’s just as tough here as in Singapore.”
Ocon made much of the progress through his strategy: he started on the hard and used the safety car phase, in which he switched to the soft. “We knew what we had to do. We wanted to last a long time on the tough tracks and we wanted these tires to last so I had quite a lot to manage at the start,” said the Frenchman of the strategy. “It was harder than I expected, honestly I thought I would would never get the tires to work. It worked, so that was good. We weren’t really fast at the start, but slowly the speed got better and we got fast compared to other cars.”
Alpine had to build a new chassis on Saturday due to Ocon’s crash in VT3. Even after this crash, he was critical of the race management because he himself did not survive the crash entirely unscathed. “I have to say a big thank you to the guys from the team because everything on the car was broken. The seat is shattered, the pedal housing is completely broken and the chassis is also broken. It was a huge impression and I only feel half as fit physically,” he says. Then what was he worried about? “Especially my knees and lower back. I have some bruises on my heels. The hit was 51G so that was pretty painful.”