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Formula 1

From 51G crash to points – why latest F1 ‘win’ claim is deserved

by Josh Suttill, Edd Straw
3 min read

At this early point in the 2022 Formula 1 season, the phrase “feels like a win” has been uttered by various drivers more times than celebrities were shown during coverage of the inaugural Miami Grand Prix.

From Daniel Ricciardo’s sixth-place finish on home soil in Melbourne to the double-points finish at Imola that got Aston Martin off the mark, or Alex Albon and Williams’s first point in Australia, there’s been no shortage of heroic midfield drives that have been followed by such a claim.

Esteban Ocon is the latest to repeat that but, when factoring in how appalling his Saturday in Miami was, it feels like the achievement matches the “feels like a win” rhetoric.

After Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz fell victim to the Miami International Autodrome on Friday, Ocon was the next to lose control in Saturday morning practice as he slammed his Alpine rearwards into the Turn 13 barrier.

The resulting 51G impact cracked his chassis and consequently ruled him out of qualifying. It was also enough to trigger a mandatory visit to the medical centre and while Ocon was swiftly given the all-clear, he admitted he only felt “50%” on Sunday.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Miami Grand Prix Race Day Miami, Usa

But that didn’t stop him from charging from the back of the grid to eighth place, avoiding the chaos triggered by the late-race safety car restart and jumping ahead of team-mate Fernando Alonso once the Spaniard’s pair of five-second time penalties were applied.

“I am delighted,” Ocon said after the race.

“I think it was a victory for us today. It was clearly a mountain to climb for all of us but I think from the strategy to the tyre management to the radio calls, everything was perfect today and to end up in the points being 50% [fit] physically as well for me, feels like a win.”

Ocon said Alpine’s plan was always to run a long first stint on the hard tyres and make the most of the tyre advantage at the end – something Ocon did when he fitted the soft tyres when the safety car was called.

“We were not very fast at the start and then the pace increased slowly, slowly and then we became very quick in comparison to the other cars,” Ocon explained.

“So I have to say a big thank you to the boys because everything was broken from in the car yesterday.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Miami Grand Prix Qualifying Day Miami, Usa

“I just checked [the broken car] this morning, the seat is in pieces. The pedal box is completely broken, the throttle, the brakes, it’s broken. And the chassis obviously.

“It was a big impact. I feel 50% today but we’ve made it and it shows also that we are doing a good job physically.”

Ocon labelled it “unacceptable” that complaints over the concrete barrier at the site of his crash had been ignored – a sentiment that was echoed by many other drivers on Saturday.

When asked where he was feeling the most pain, Ocon said: “The knees mainly, lower back, the traps obviously. A little bit of bruising here and there on the heels. It was 51G so pretty painful.”

With no retirements among the leading three teams (Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes) and Valtteri Bottas having a trouble-free race in an Alfa Romeo that could make a case for being F1’s third-fastest car, eighth place was the best Alpine could hope for, and that’s exactly what Ocon delivered despite his lowly grid spot.

Ocon’s fourth points finish in five races also cements his ninth position in the drivers’ championship and marks his strongest start to an F1 season yet.

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