Esteban Ocon described his maiden Formula One victory as “unbelievable” after taking a dramatic win at 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix.
Ocon benefitted from six cars crashing out on the opening lap to claim the lead once Lewis Hamilton pitted for slick tyres on lap five, having pitted a lap later than the rest of field on the restart which left Ocon to take victory after a fierce battle with Sebastian Vettel.
Speaking post-race on his victory, Ocon admitted that becoming the sport’s 111th Grand Prix winner felt “unbelievable and it definitely has not sunk in yet” for the ex Mercedes junior who described his victory as “a crazy race from the very start to the end.”
Ocon though admitted he and Alpine found themselves making “a lot of decisions” which paid off through excellent execution with his “mega” second pit stop which saw him narrowly avoid being undercut by Vettel as he “managed the pace” to claim his first race victory since 2015 GP3 Spanish Feature Race.
The Frenchman though acknowledged how important a role his teammate – Fernando Alonso played in his win, as the Spaniard held Hamilton up for ten laps in the closing stages before eventually finishing fourth following Vettel’s disqualification post-race.
Paying tribute to Alonso’s efforts, Ocon said: “What a fight from Fernando too, his amazing teamwork at the end played a huge part in the win and it was great to share the moment with him.”
Ocon also praised Alpine for their “work and support” which paid off with victory after having signed a new three-year deal with Alpine in late June, during a four-race streak without points which included his home race in France.
Alonso in turn described Ocon’s maiden victory as “one of the lucky days” after having also taken his first F1 win around the Hungaroring 18 years ago in 2003, although he iterated that Alpine must look to “maximise these opportunities” if want to “execute races close to perfect if luck is with us.”
The Spaniard however described his own race as “very long” and “very tough” after losing positions at the start, which ultimately “compromised” his race despite helping Ocon to victory by holding up Hamilton for ten laps.
‘humbled by standing on the podium’
Alpine CEO, Laurent Rossi was delighted with the team’s first victory following their rebrand from Renault to Alpine in the off-season, as he praised everyone from both team bases in Enstone, UK, and Viry, France, for showing ” great resilience, dedication and passion” to achieve this result in just their tenth race as Alpine.
Rossi also applauded Alonso for showing “incredible fighting spirit” to gift Ocon victory with a stunning defence against Hamilton, especially at Turn Four despite lacking the speed to match the Brit on the run up to the corner which ultimately prevented the Brit from catching the top two at the end.
This victory also marked the first time that the team returned to the top step since 2013 Australian Grand Prix, when Kimi Raikkonen took victory for the team, which left Rossi full of pride at the team’s achievement.
Explaining his joy at their Hungarian GP success, Rossi commented: “We are humbled by standing on the podium amongst the giants of this amazingly competitive sport.”