Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Monaco, 2023

Ocon hit the walls “very, very hard a couple of times” during provisional pole lap

2023 Monaco Grand Prix

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Esteban Ocon admitted he struck the barriers multiple times during his final qualifying lap in Q3 which temporarily put him on pole position.

The Alpine driver will start at least fourth on the grid for Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix after he qualified within two tenths of eventual pole winner Max Verstappen. There remains a possibility he could be promoted to third as Charles Leclerc, who qualified one place ahead of Ocon, is under investigation for impeding Lando Norris.

Ocon says he is thrilled with his performance and how his Alpine team managed the weekend leading up to qualifying.

“If before the weekend you told us that we were in the top five, already we would have signed,” Ocon told media including RaceFans following qualifying. “But it’s even better than that – it’s less than two tenths away from pole position.

“I’m extremely happy with how we built the weekend until now, from the simulator to every session that we’ve done. I felt confident in the car from run one of FP1, being able to push a lot harder than usual. I’ve let it go 100% on that last lap, I’ve hit the wall very, very hard a couple of times, but that definitely gave us a good amount of lap time. So very pleased with how we’ve built everything.”

Ocon had sat on provisional pole position with under two minutes remaining in the session and returned to the pits following his run to watch his rivals complete their final runs, ultimately demoting him to fourth.

“I was still on pole, I think, when I came in,” he said. “Then I saw the ‘fall of hell’, which doesn’t feel great! But we can be pleased with being only two tenths off a Red Bull.”

Alpine’s decision to make Ocon’s final push lap with four minutes remaining on the clock was a deliberate strategy borne out of fears of a red flag in the dying moments as happened last year in Monaco and at the last round in Miami.

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“We got done exactly in Miami for that,” Ocon explained. “We left late, we got done with the red flag of Charles towards the end and we wanted to avoid that. We wanted to go earlier with the two sets and that’s what we did. Unfortunately, there was no red flag for us today, but it could well have paid off! So something we will keep in mind.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Monaco, 2023
Gallery: Monaco Grand Prix qualifying day in pictures
Following a difficult start to the season for Alpine, including a public roasting from the team’s CEO over their performances, Ocon says he encouraging result is not a sign that the team are suddenly now in the fight at the front.

“I think it’s a very unique circuit. It’s very special characteristics,” he explained. “I think if you take all the risk and you manage to nail it, you can be further up towards where the car can be.

“I definitely feel like we were very confident this weekend straight away, we nailed the setup, but we need to affirm that when we arrive in Barcelona. But definitely today a big shout out to the team for their effort because they’ve done a tremendous job.”

Ocon says he is optimistic of Alpine’s chances of a strong result in Sunday’s race and will be hoping to pick up the pieces from the expected battle ahead of him between Verstappen and Fernando Alonso.

“Fernando is starting second – I’m pretty sure he is going to take all the risk to be in the lead after turn one. So hopefully it creates a mess and that opens up the way for us.”

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2023 Monaco Grand Prix

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    Author information

    Will Wood
    Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
    Claire Cottingham
    Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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    3 comments on “Ocon hit the walls “very, very hard a couple of times” during provisional pole lap”

    1. Since everybody praises Alonso I’ll be the one who said Ocon can win tomorrow

    2. Well he is a GP winner so he must know what he’s doing.
      OH look there’s the Red Bull image again!
      WOW thanks!!

      1. If you’re talking about the image showing the floor, the INEOS branding on the rear wing is obviously from the Mercedes.

        Must say I’ve seen that exact image on this site on multiple articles, too.

    Comments are closed.