Esteban Ocon is aiming for a return to the points in Spa-Francorchamps after the disappointment in Hungary last time out. The Frenchman explains his mindset heading into the Belgian Grand Prix.
How are you feeling after the Hungarian Grand Prix ?
It was very frustrating for the entire team to have a double retirement on Sunday, especially in such circumstances so early into the race. There wasn’t much Pierre or I could do and we have no choice but to move on and focus on this weekend where we hope to bounce back quickly. Despite the significant impact of the crash on Sunday, I am feeling OK physically and very motivated to race in Belgium. Given this weekend’s Sprint format, we have the chance to take points on both Saturday and Sunday, so we will be doing all we can to maximise our opportunities.
How can the team respond at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix ?
We are keeping our heads down and focusing on what we have to do. We will keep pushing and staying positive, and we are all working flat out to achieve stronger team results, both at the factories and at the track. We also have a new floor on both cars this weekend so we hope to extract as much performance from that as possible. In a way, we are glad to be racing so quickly after last week’s disappointment so we can have a chance to right the wrongs and bounce back.
Spa-Francorchamps is one of the classic tracks of the calendar. What are your thoughts on it ?
Spa is a track I know well and I made my F1 debut here back in 2016, which seems like a long time ago! A dream came true that day for me and it is nice to know I am still racing at such tracks, in the pinnacle of motorsport, seven years later. Spa is an iconic circuit, and many drivers really love coming here, including myself. While the shorter layout in Budapest last week brought with it a heavy focus on downforce, Spa is the longest track on the calendar, measuring over 7km. The most famous part of the track is probably the run from Turn 1 down to Eau Rouge, up through Raidillon and along the Kemmel Straight towards Les Combes, which offers some exciting, full-throttle racing. Overall, I would say the circuit has a fast-flowing nature with an old school feel, and I am excited to get back in the car and work towards a positive weekend ahead of the summer-shutdown.
Pierre Gasly left Budapest with a feeling of frustration after missing the chance to show his hand in Sunday’s Grand Prix. Now Pierre is fully focused on Spa-Francorchamps where he targets points in the final race before the summer break.
What’s there to say about Budapest ?
It was a very frustrating weekend for the team and, unfortunately, the second race weekend where we have left without scoring points. This falls a long way short of our expectations, even if Sunday’s race was without fault of our own with an unavoidable Turn 1 collision. For me, it’s made even more disappointing after such a strong start off the line and down into Turn 1 where I gained some positions. It’s impossible to exactly know how the race would have unfolded, but I’m confident we had the potential to be fighting the Astons for the points as a minimum. Of course, we need to qualify better, higher up the grid, but I do hope we can have a stronger outing in Spa this weekend.
How are you aiming to come back stronger in Spa ?
As a team, it’s important we stick together, keep our heads down and keep working hard to bring better results. We have an upgrade this weekend and hopefully that will all go to plan and bring some additional performance to the car which we need now. It’s another Sprint weekend, which brings more opportunities to score points. We will target a solid Practice session before we go into Qualifying on Friday night. I’m feeling even more determined for a strong outcome from the weekend ahead of the summer break.
What is your assessment of the season so far at the mid-point ?
Ultimately, it’s not been a good first part of the season for us and that is shown with our results. We’ve had some very positive moments just sometimes without the reward to show for it: Australia while in fifth place before the incident and Qualifying performances in Miami and Spain for example. When we piece everything together, we look strong but we have to target more complete performances between now and the rest of the season. There are areas where, as a team, we must strive for better and I’m sure we can turn things around. I look forward to Belgium this weekend, where I’m targeting a good outing, before we have the summer break. Everyone in the team deserves some rest, but, after that, we must be hungry to attack the second part of the year.