In a race dominated by tyre management and careful strategy, both drivers made strong starts to the 62-lap race, Esteban up one place to seventh on the opening lap and Pierre into eleventh.
From there, Esteban set his sights on chasing down Fernando Alonso with Pierre looking to pass the Haas duo of Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg. A Safety Car on lap 20 led to both cars double stacking – changing from Mediums to Hards – executed with slick efficiency from the pit crew. Esteban was able to hold ninth place while Pierre jumped Hulkenberg in the pit-stop.
From there an exciting battle ensued as a handful of cars looked to catch the Red Bulls of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen. Esteban made a superb move on Alonso at Turn 11 and later Perez, making his way up to sixth on the road. Pierre too passed Perez with the two Alpines holding sixth and eighth, respectively.
Unfortunately, Esteban stopped at Turn 2 on lap 43 with a suspected gearbox issue, which the team will investigate.
Esteban Ocon, started P8, DNF:
“I am gutted to end the race this way. We were performing well and showed some good pace today. The team were making all the right calls and we were able to have some fun on track with some overtakes throughout the race. Unfortunately, we had a gearbox issue, which ended my race. We need to investigate closely to understand what happened and to ensure it does not happen again. We deserved more today but we can be proud of our performance all weekend. It’s certainly not the way I wanted to end my birthday but we have a chance to bounce back next week at my favourite track of the season and we’ll continue to work together as a team to make sure we come away with a strong result in Suzuka.”
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