Ocon hails sixth place in US GP despite illness, reveals of pre-race scare
While it didn't made it on the world feed, but Esteban Ocon revealed of a control unit issue on the Force India car before the start of the US Grand Prix.
"Before the race there was an issue on the grid with a control unit in my car, but the team did a really good job to make the repairs in time for the start," said Ocon.
Starting from sixth on the grid due to Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen's penalty, the Frenchman got Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen off the line to get himself in the Top 5 for the initial stint.
However, the pace advantage of Raikkonen got the better of Ocon, with the Force India driver largely looking settled for sixth as the best of the rest - despite coming under immense pressure from Renault's Carlos Sainz.
Even though, Ocon wasn't feeling a 100 percent due to upset stomach and migrane, the Mercedes junior put on a stiff fight against Sainz and fended him off in the end to keep sixth - his fifth time finishing in that position this season.
"Sixth place feels very satisfying because it was not an easy race with so much pressure from Sainz in the final stages," he said. "I spent a big part of the race just managing my pace and looking after the tyres to make the one-stop strategy work.
"The team told me when to push and when to manage the pace, and to finish sixth shows we judged this almost perfectly. The car was strong today with good pace and it’s another race where we have come away feeling we achieved the maximum result that was possible."
By finishing in Austin, Ocon now holds the record of 26 race finishes (and counting) since the start of his F1 career in 2016 Belgian Grand Prix - the next record to break is of 33 consecutive race finishes, being held by Nick Heidfeld.
Meanwhile, teammate Sergio Perez had a good outing to finish eighth - the Mexican cleared the likes of Williams' Felipe Massa, McLaren's Fernando Alonso and Sainz courtesy of an undercut, but Sainz fought back to reclaim the position.
Massa also came close to clear Perez - the two exchanging places in the last few laps, but blue flags came to the aid of the Mexican, for him to keep the position from Massa and even Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat.
"It was a difficult race and I am very happy we managed to score some points. We tried a very aggressive strategy to make up ground after yesterday’s qualifying session and we made a very early stop to undercut Massa and Sainz," said Perez.
"We managed to do so and I passed Alonso on track, and then got close to Esteban. At the time, I thought I had much better pace because he was saving his tyres, but being in traffic really damaged my tyres and I fell back.
"It’s hard to know how things would have gone if I had got past Esteban - maybe I could have saved my tyres a bit better. When Sainz was behind me, I couldn’t do anything because his tyres were much fresher.
"Towards the end, I had a hard time defending from Kvyat and Massa, and I really struggled to keep Felipe behind in the last few laps. My tyres were on the limit, but I am happy I was able to finish eighth. It’s been a good result for the team so we can be happy."
At one stage after the undercut, Perez was again close to teammate Ocon, requesting the Indian squad to allow him to get ahead - but the team insisted to keep it the way it is, which helped a faster Sainz to clear Perez for seventh.
After 17 races, Force India is a comfortable fourth with 159 points - scoring its 14th double points finish of the season, with Perez in seventh with 86 points and Ocon in eighth with 73 in the drivers' standings.