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Ocon: Pirelli F1 wet “not the right tyre at any moment”

Esteban Ocon was left fuming after his Alpine Formula 1 team switched him to full-wet Pirelli tyres when rain returned in the closing stages of the Dutch Grand Prix.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523, makes a stop

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

The Frenchman claimed after the race that the wet compound was “not the right tyre at any moment” and that if conditions were right for it, a red flag would probably result, which is exactly what happened.

Ocon eventually claimed a point for 10th place on a day when team-mate Pierre Gasly gave the Enstone outfit a boost by finishing third, but he remained convinced that he could have done better.

Ocon lost ground at the start when he was only able to pit for intermediates on the second lap after Gasly came in at the end of lap one.

The Frenchman was again forced to wait an additional lap to pit when the rain reappeared towards the end of the race as Alpine opted against double-stacking its cars. 

As he gingerly completed the extra lap, he was told by his engineer that he would be put on extreme wets rather than intermediates because “massive” rain was coming.

He immediately questioned the choice, saying, “go inters guys,” as he came into the pitlane in what was briefly sixth place.

He was the only driver to initially be given wets rather than intermediates, and within a few corners he reported, “This is the worst decision guys, fucking hell”.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523

Photo by: Dom Romney / Motorsport Images

After being told that there would be “monsoon rain for at least five minutes” he replied: “Yeah, but if it’s not driveable they will red flag”.

Shortly after that, a crash for Guanyu Zhou triggered a race stoppage with Ocon in 11th, having lost two places in the stop sequence. By then Red Bull drivers Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen had also pitted for full wet tyres.

After he parked in the pitlane, Ocon's cockpit camera caught him shaking his head in frustration.

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Following the resumption on inters, he moved up one spot to claim 10th after George Russell pitted with a puncture, but he remained convinced that more points were on the table.

“First of all, congratulations to Pierre and his side of the garage,” he said. “I think they've done a super job to bring the team the second podium this season. So, that's very positive. And probably the only positive of this weekend.

“On my side, the car wasn't feeling better. But we still fought hard enough from 16th to sixth, it was going super well, [we] took risks. There were some big battles out there, and I always managed to make my way through, so that was really good.

“But unfortunately, we let these points just slip away at the end. I wasn't happy with the call of the full wets. But also we boxed one lap too late.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine

Esteban Ocon, Alpine

Photo by: Alpine

“The tyres were not ready in the garage for me to box at the lap that I asked on the radio. So I had to stay out on slicks when it was wet and lost five positions. So went from sixth to eleventh.”

Asked by Autosport if the later Red Bull switch to wets indicated that the call could have paid off he said: “No, it was not the right tyre at any moment. First, when you have a Red Bull, you have some margin in the front. We don't have any margin.

“And the second thing is, if you have to put the full wets, it's a red flag. And it happened.

“There is no point at any point where the full wet is a better tyre because it's slower. And if it's the right condition for the full wets, it's not the right condition to drive an F1 car.”

He also admitted that it was frustrating to have not been able to pit for inters on the first lap, when Gasly and others stopped.

“Well, it's been Spa and here, that this has happened, that's how it is,” he said.

“But even with that, we could have done a P6 finish today, and it would not have mattered that obviously we lost out a little bit on that first pit stop. The big cost one was the last one.”

 

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