Alpine’s Esteban Ocon felt “disappointed” to miss out on a third podium in Formula One after narrowly missing out on third in a dramatic 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Ocon started the race ninth but improved to seventh on the opening lap before benefitting from Charles Leclerc, Sergio Perez and Lando Norris pitting on Lap 10 under the Safety Car to climb to fourth when the red flag was waved on Lap 13.
On the first standing restart, Ocon got an excellent start to climb to second after Max Verstappen squeezed Lewis Hamilton wide whilst chaos behind meant a second red flag, which caused Ocon to be handed pole for the second standing restart on Lap 17 after Verstappen was penalised two grid positions.
The Frenchman though couldn’t keep Verstappen behind as he tangled with Hamilton whilst Verstappen dived across the track and inside of Turn One, claiming the lead on exit of Turn Three after Ocon cut the opening two corners.
Hamilton dispatched Ocon on the following lap leaving the Frenchman sat third but despite a valiant effort, he missed out on a podium finish by 0.102 seconds to Valtteri Bottas, with Ocon admitting post-race that “I gave it my all today.”
Explaining his emotions at finishing fourth, Ocon commented: “The competitor inside of me is disappointed to miss out on the podium by such a short distance, but I’m very proud of the whole team today.
What we achieved is outstanding and to take fourth place and add 12 more points in the bag in the championship is what counts.”
Ocon added that he and Alpine had done their race strategy spot on in nailing “the right moments,” amidst the chaos and “fun” feeling of taking a standing restart from pole position for the first time since 2015 when he competed in GP3.
Although fourth was his eventual finishing position, Ocon concluded by iterating that he “can leave here with our heads high and feeling very proud.”
Fernando Alonso meanwhile endured a difficult race as he finished a lap down in 13th position in what he described as “a crazy race” after the first red flag ruined his race strategy, in which he had targeted fifth at maximum,
Alonso though wasn’t impressed with the stewarding in Jeddah amidst debris strewn across the track as he added: “I think it was a bit dangerous racing amongst all the debris today and to not have a full Safety Car.”