Thursday, April 18, 2024

Ocon Looking for Austria Points: “Hopefully we can take advantage of the Sprint weekend format”

Esteban Ocon is hopeful of another strong performance at the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend, with the Frenchman keen to score big after a fifth place finish at the track in 2022.

The BWT Alpine F1 Team driver says he enjoys driving around the Red Bull Ring and has scored points on all bar two of his visits to the track, the Frenchman retiring from the Austrian Grand Prix in 2021 and the Styrian Grand Prix of 2020.

Ocon says the track presents some ‘interesting challenges’ with its elevation changes and low and high downforce sections, but he is looking to score points for a fifth consecutive race weekend. And he believes the sprint race format will offer chances for the team.

“It’s good to be back in Spielberg as I really enjoy coming back here,” said Ocon.  “I had a good result here last year, so we hope to have another good weekend like that.

“As for the track itself, it presents some interesting challenges with the tight low-speed corners contrasting with the faster infield corners at Turn 6 and 7. Also, the significant elevation changes add to the challenge and make some of the braking zones tricky.

“Nevertheless, it’s fun to drive and hopefully we can take advantage of the Sprint weekend format to collect valuable points.”

“We have some good opportunities this weekend” – Pierre Gasly

Team-mate Pierre Gasly is bidding to turn around his recent misfortunes and return to the top ten in Austria, the Frenchman having failed to score points in Canada after finishing only tenth in Spain.

After being baulked by Carlos Sainz Jr. during Q1 at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Gasly was forced to fight from near the back of the pack two weeks ago, and despite having a car that was capable of points, he could only rise to twelfth.

Gasly also had a disappointing sprint race weekend earlier in the season in Azerbaijan, and he believes there will be opportunities this weekend to return to the points paying positions.

“I really like Austria,” Gasly said.  “It’s one of those classic European circuits with a traditional feel and a great atmosphere to go with it.

“It’s one of the shortest circuits on the calendar but it’s fast and very rewarding. It has some big braking zones as well as fast sweeping corners, especially Sector 3 with the two quick right handers.

“We have some good opportunities this weekend with the Sprint format. It’s two Qualifying sessions and two races where we must be on it from lap one.

“We have some unfinished business after the disappointment in Baku – the first Sprint of the season – and I’m feeling ready for it in Austria this weekend.”

Pierre Gasly failed to score in Canada and is looking for better in Austria – Credit: BWT Alpine F1 Team