Esteban Ocon says that the Russian Grand Prix was his best race since he returned to Formula 1 with Renault, until he pitted and changed to the hard tyres.
From seventh on the grid Ocon jumped up to fourth at the start, and he subsequently ran in that position ahead of his team mate Daniel Ricciardo until the Australian stopped.
Having gone two laps further before his own stop Ocon then found life difficult on the hard tyre, and after a few laps he was obliged to switch positions with Ricciardo.
He also lost out to Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc on his way to an eventual seventh place, and despite the frustration of slipping down the order he still viewed the race as a positive one.
“Probably the first part of the race I agree that it was probably the strongest of my season so far,” he said.
“I had a good start, and the pace was very, very strong. In that soft stint very comparable to Daniel, except that I managed to keep the tyres a bit more alive for a couple more laps, which definitely felt nice.
“Unfortunately, after the stop with the hard tyres, it was a bit more difficult. So we still have a few things to review on that.
“There were potentially a few more points on the table on my side possible.
“But we’re getting there. It’s quite a good sign that we had such a good pace in the first stint.
“Obviously, it doesn’t feel fantastic because of that second stint, but it’s still a decent result for the team because we are catching on the third place in the constructors’.”
Renault has been competitive at all tracks recently, with Ricciardo earning two fourths, a fifth and a sixth in the last four races, and Ocon also scoring in three of those events.
“I think overall the target is to be consistent everywhere,” he said.
“At the moment, we had a good understanding, I think in the last couple races, with how we set up the car, and where we could improve.
“We had also a few small upgrades, which helps our performance.
” think if we’re coming back to Budapest, in Barcelona, I’m not saying we would qualify fifth or something, but I think things would have been different.
“I think we can extract more performance from the car now, with the understanding we have.”
Ocon has no concerns about possible wet conditions for the next race at the Nurburgring.
“It’s gonna be completely different for the tyres obviously to get them to temperature for the car set-up. And anything can happen going back to the north of Europe, with a bit of rain and stuff.
“But we are quite capable of doing well in the rain.
“The car has been strong in Barcelona winter testing in the rain, I qualified fifth in Austria in the rain. So if it rains, we should be in decent shape as well.”