In damp weather conditions, Esteban got off the line well and managed to avoid several first corner incidents. The Frenchman exited Turn 1 in second place . A red flag brought proceedings to a short delay to allow the resulting debris to be cleared. During the 15-minute break in action, the track began to dry leaving drivers and teams with an agonising choice on whether to fit the slicks at the end of the Formation Lap. In the end, only one car (Lewis Hamilton) lined-up on the grid with Intermediate tyres, with Esteban opting to switch to the dry compounds along with the rest of the field.
Esteban assumed the lead of the race once Hamilton conceded and pitted for dry tyres. He settled into an early rhythm with the Aston Martin of Sebastian Vettel keeping him in close company.
Vettel was brought into the pits one lap earlier than Esteban, but a smooth pitstop by the team meant he held position and could avoid an undercut.
Whilst his team-mate was in the lead, Fernando was fighting inside the podium places, battling with Carlos Sainz and a late charging Hamilton. With fresher rubber, Lewis shared a thrilling battle for fourth place with Fernando, whose actions protected Esteban’s lead from the seven times World Champion.
Despite constant pressure from the German driver behind, Esteban delivered a measured and error free drive to hold onto the lead and take the chequered flag. The result means Esteban becomes the first driver to win in a French car with a French engine since Alain Prost's victory for Renault in Austria 1983. It is also the first victory for the Alpine brand, just six months after it made its F1 debut.
Esteban Ocon, Alpine Formula One Driver:
"I am a Formula 1 Grand Prix winner, it’s unbelievable and it definitely has not sunk in yet. What a moment, allez les bleus! It was a crazy race from the very start to the end. There were a lot of decisions to make and the team executed that really well along with the crew who did a mega pit-stop, which was crucial to staying in front of Sebastian [Vettel]. I was happy to manage the pace as best as possible at the front and it all worked out well today. What a fight from Fernando too, his amazing teamwork at the end played a huge part in the win and it was great to share the moment with him. I can’t be thankful enough for the team’s work and support and it’s all paid off today. A big thanks as well to everyone at Enstone and Viry – this is for you!"
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