Ocon found it ‘stressful’ fighting Vettel in his final F1 race

Esteban Ocon found fighting against Sebastian Vettel in Abu Dhabi to be “a bit stressful” as he didn’t want to impact the German's final Formula 1 race.

Ocon found it ‘stressful’ fighting Vettel in his final F1 race

Vettel made his 299th and final grand prix start in Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, ending his career with a 10th-place finish for Aston Martin.

The weekend was filled with tributes to the outgoing Vettel, who announced back in July he would be retiring at the end of the season.

Alpine driver Ocon spent the early part of the race battling with Vettel, keeping him at bay despite coming under pressure until making his first pit stop on lap 14. Ocon would ultimately go on to grab seventh, while Vettel’s longer first stint took him out of contention in their battle.

Reflecting on his fight with Vettel after the race, Ocon said it was a “very nice battle” but called it “a bit stressful.”

“I didn’t want to be the one touching him in his last race!” Ocon said after the chequered flag. “But yeah, it was a good fight. And a fair fight, like always with Seb. It was good fun.”

Ocon leads Vettel early in the race

Ocon leads Vettel early in the race

Photo by: Alpine

Ocon, who started one spot ahead of Vettel in eighth, said he did not go into the scrap having made a conscious decision to stay away from incidents, saying he instead “made a conscious decision to keep him behind” as “that’s what I needed to do at the time.”

He added: “I knew when I was going to pit. Our fresher tyres were struggling, particularly on the medium. But after that it was better.”

Ocon’s Alpine teammate, Fernando Alonso, said on Saturday after qualifying that he would “take care” of Vettel in the opening stages of the race after starting right behind the Aston Martin, and ensure he stayed out of trouble. It didn't turn out that way, as the Spaniard remained behind the German in the first stint and later retired.

Alpine entered the Abu Dhabi season finale defending a 19-point lead over McLaren in the fight to finish fourth in the constructors’ championship.

Ocon spent much of the race adrift from McLaren’s Lando Norris, only to close up on the Briton in the latter stages as his hard tyres proved more durable over the stint.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine F1 Team, with his partner Elena Berri

Esteban Ocon, Alpine F1 Team, with his partner Elena Berri

Photo by: Michael Potts / Motorsport Images

Ocon crossed the line just one second behind Norris, believing one more lap would probably have been enough to get sixth.

“It was a very close race the whole way, but that doesn’t matter,” he said. “All the targets that we set ourselves are accomplished. We finished fourth in the constructors’ championship. Thank God for that! I lost two-and-a-half kilos this weekend in stress and being too focused.

“It's also my best season in Formula 1 in terms of points. I'm very pleased with that. It was a good job by the whole team to have developed the car so much over the year.

“Hopefully we can close the gap even more for next year.”

Read Also:
shares
comments
What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi
Previous article

What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi

Next article

Ricciardo officially returns to Red Bull as third driver for F1 2023

Ricciardo officially returns to Red Bull as third driver for F1 2023
How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future Plus

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future

Multiple-title-winning designer and team boss Ross Brawn is finally leaving Formula 1 after nearly 50 years in motorsport. But he still has plenty of insights on what’s working and what comes next, as he revealed to Autosport in a far-reaching exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2022
The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Plus

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2022
The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Plus

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2022
The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star Plus

The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star

Esteban Ocon likes to point out he’s the first driver since Lewis Hamilton to emerge from a spell as Fernando Alonso’s team-mate with a superior overall points record. While some may disagree, as LUKE SMITH discovered, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner reckons it’s not just luck which has made him France’s pre-eminent Formula 1 driver of the moment…

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2022
How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy Plus

How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy

The death of Dietrich Mateschitz last month has not only deprived Red Bull of its visionary founder, it has shorn Formula 1 of one of its most influential benefactors. Mateschitz himself was famously media-shy, preferring to let the brand do the talking on his behalf. And, while it’s now normal to speak of Red Bull F1 titles and champions made, Mateschitz never assumed it would be easy or even possible – as ANTHONY ROWLINSON discovered during this previously unpublished interview from 2006…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2022
Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom? Plus

Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom?

OPINION: Teams that have dominated for long periods throughout Formula 1's history often take years to get back to the top of the tree once they've slipped down. But it remains to be seen whether the same will happen to Mercedes after a challenging 2022 season

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2022
What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi Plus

What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi

Arguably the favourite in the battle to finish second best in 2022's Formula 1 standings, Sergio Perez's two-stop strategy at Abu Dhabi couldn't take him ahead of Charles Leclerc when the music stopped - and several key factors ultimately precluded him from the much-coveted runner-up spot

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2022
The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success Plus

The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success

OPINION: Charles Leclerc achieved his target of sealing runner-up in the 2022 world championship with a masterful drive behind Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi. And that race contained key elements that may help him, and Ferrari, go one better in Formula 1 2023

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2022