Ocon: Sochi my best race of 2020 for first stint

Esteban Ocon feels that the Russian Grand Prix was his best race since returning to Formula 1 up until he switched to hard tyres.

The Renault driver made an excellent start at Sochi, getting past Sergio Perez and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo to move up to P4.

He then held the position for the rest of his first stint on the soft tyre, even making them last longer than the Aussie, allowing him to stay out for two laps longer.

However, the Frenchman struggled after switching to the hard tyre and was forced to let Ricciardo through after being unable to pass Sebastian Vettel.

His struggles continued for the rest of the race as he came home in P7 behind Charles Leclerc. Nevertheless, he still sees it as a positive race.

“Probably the first part of the race I agree that it was probably the strongest of my season so far,” he told Motorsport.com.

“I had a good start, and the pace was very, very strong. In that soft stint very comparable to Daniel, except that I managed to keep the tyres a bit more alive for a couple more laps, which definitely felt nice.

“Unfortunately, after the stop with the hard tyres, it was a bit more difficult. So we still have a few things to review on that.

“There were potentially a few more points on the table on my side possible, but you know, we’re getting there. It’s quite a good sign that we had such a good pace in the first stint.

“Obviously, it doesn’t feel fantastic because of that second stint, but I mean, it’s still a decent result for the team because we are catching on the third place in the constructors’”

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Renault has been enjoying something of a resurgence of late, and their strong pace in the last four races has put them within reach of P3 in the Constructors’ Championship.

Ocon feels that the improvement in the car’s pace is largely down to the team understanding it more now than earlier in the season.

“I think overall the target is to be consistent everywhere,” he added.

“At the moment, we had a good understanding, I think in the last couple of races, with how we set up the car and where we could improve. We had also a few small upgrades, which helps our performance.

“And I think if we’re coming back to Budapest, to Barcelona, I’m not saying we would qualify fifth or something, but I think things would have been different, as simple as that. I think we can extract more performance from the car now, with the understanding we have.”

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