Alpine’s Esteban Ocon has hailed his fourth-placed finish at 2022 Japanese Grand Prix as a “fantastic result” for him and the team.
Ocon enjoyed a consistent weekend in Suzuka, Japan, as he finished inside the top ten across all three practice sessions and outqualified both Mercedes drivers to start fifth on the grid.
The Frenchman however benefitted from a first lap aquaplaning incident for Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz to claim fourth, which he held to the checkered flag amidst a 127 minute red flag and flurry of pit stops which briefly dropped him down the order.
Reflecting post-race on what the fourth-placed finish meant to him following a tough race, Ocon commented: “To finish fourth is a fantastic result for us, especially in these conditions. It was a difficult start with the rain and poor visibility, so we had to be fully focused to get through the early stages.
“I’m glad we managed to race and reward the fans who have been so good in their support all weekend.”
Ocon though did have to fend off Lewis Hamilton for much of the race but he described their battle as “always a pleasure”, whilst he found himself often under immense pressure and forced “to drive while looking in my mirrors the whole time.”
Fernando Alonso meanwhile gambled on a two-stop intermediate tyre strategy as he twice tried to take sixth from Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, of who he had nudged into a spin at the race start but eventually fell 0.011s shy on the line.
Alonso though was upbeat about what he described as “a fun but very chaotic race” for him, although he believes more points could of been achievable beyond a seventh-placed finish, whilst trying to manage “a difficult race” in terms of weather, safety car periods and red flag.
The two-time former champion though has backed calls for a review of two separate debacles – recovery vehicle on track at same time as driver – plus the declaration of Max Verstappen as champion which confused many with awarding of full points rather than half points.
Addressing his thoughts on those controversies, Alonso said: “There were also couple of incidents which I’m sure will be reviewed to improve for the future.”