Alpine were at risk of both their cars retiring from the Mexican Grand Prix, as Esteban Ocon revealed the extent of his efforts to make sure he reached the chequered flag.
Ocon finished a lap down in eighth place last weekend at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Team mate Fernando Alonso retired eight laps from the finish having fallen to ninth place with a deteriorating power unit problem.
In what he described as a race of “damage limitation”, Ocon had to manage “a lot of cooling issues the whole way, having to lift-and-coast for quite a lot of the race”. Alonso’s unrelated problem only struck later in the race, but Ocon had to spend the whole afternoon managing high temperatures which threatened to end his race early.
“I couldn’t really attack to the maximum. A lot to review for us,” said Ocon. “Hopefully we will come back stronger in the last two.
“The team said it was critical that I had to do a lot of seconds of lift-and-coast, and when you do so, obviously you don’t accelerate. So you lose a lot of lap time, especially on a track like that. We’ve managed, we finished the race, which is the most important. But we’ve lost some important points today as a team.”
By scoring four points, Ocon reduced the amount that McLaren ate into Alpine’s points advantage in the battle for fourth place in the constructors’ championship. The rival teams go into the final two events separated by seven points.
After the race Alonso claimed his Alpine was much more prone to race-ending problems than his team mate’s. Ocon, who has finished all but two races so far this year, pointed out he has also encountered a variety of problems this year.
“I broke the gearbox in Imola, I broke the car in Silverstone, I [retired] in Singapore. I can count them on as well on my side. We’ve both had issues.
“But we are happy with the strategy of the team to push the pace of the car in front of the reliability. That was always the the aim of the team. Today was a was a bit unexpected, so something for us to understand.
“I’ve also changed six engines like him, obviously brought one today. We’re on the same number of engines.”
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