Esteban Ocon said he “cried” as he crossed the finish line at the Sakhir Grand Prix, securing his first podium with P2.
The Frenchman made his return to Formula 1 in 2020 with Renault, and while the season may not have lived up to the expectations of many, a P2 finish at the Sakhir Grand Prix will have lifted a huge weight off Ocon’s shoulders.
Sure Mercedes’ double-blunder in the pits opened the door for Ocon, but he was able to take advantage of a wide moment for Racing Point’s Lance Stroll at Turn 1 and hold on from there as he took P2, his first podium in Formula 1.
And with such an emotional moment came plenty of tears for Ocon as he crossed the line.
“I’ve no words. I cried on the line,” he told reporters after the Sakhir Grand Prix.
“That’s how much emotion is going through my mind, actually.
“Now, it’s been a tough season, on our side. It hasn’t paid off all the time, but we never stopped pushing, we kept working hard, and kept staying motivated. That was very important.
“At the moment where there’s less and less people believing in you, it’s important to believe in yourself and today we made it happen. I’m very pleased with it so it’s hard work, but it paid off.”
— Esteban Ocon (@OconEsteban) December 6, 2020
Considering Ocon has a multiple-time race winner in Daniel Ricciardo for a team-mate, it can be very easy to be made to look average.
But Ocon is using the Aussie as a benchmark to improve, and arguably he needs to with two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso returning to the team in Ricciardo’s place for 2021.
“Daniel is a fantastic benchmark, he has done a very solid season into his second season at Renault, and he has stepped up,” said Ocon.
“But overall, you know, I feel like my progression has been strong as well. And I’m closing the gap to him and, to have that podium, is the cherry on the cake.”
That result saw Ocon move on to 60 points for the season, leaving him 52 behind Ricciardo with just the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to go.
Ocon’s 18 points in Sakhir were also vital in keeping Renault in with a chance of claiming P3 in the Constructors’ Championship. The gap to Racing Point who are currently P3 heading into Abu Dhabi is 22 points.