Esteban Ocon’s podium at the Monaco Grand Prix is a “huge reward” for Alpine after a difficult start to 2023.
Ocon qualified strongly on Saturdayrecording the fourth best time before moving up one place Charles Leclerc was penalized for hitting Lando Norris.
He then held that position at the start, fending off Lewis Hamilton’s advances in the later stages to secure his first podium finish since winning in Hungary in 2021.
This also comes after a difficult start to the season he has seen Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi criticized the team in the media last time in Miami.
The team responded well and Pierre Gasly also scored points in seventh position.
Their combined score of 21 points in Monaco puts McLaren fifth in the Constructors’ Championship.
“At the moment I have no words. I’m still a bit in the cloud,” said Ocon.
“If you had told us before the weekend that we would be in the top 10, we would have been happy. It would be a strong weekend.
“But we’re not in the top ten; we are not in the top five, we are on the podium.
“We had a difficult start to the season, but from the first session I felt strong in the car. I felt confident behind the wheel,” he added.
“I was able to push, session after session, closer to the limit than I usually do in Monaco.
“That allowed me to do the lap I did yesterday, which of course is 90 percent of the work.”
Sunday’s race started dry, but was always threatened with downpours.
It came with less than 30 laps to go, initially landing at the northern end of the track before engulfing the entire 3.337 km facility.
Ocon spent the opening laps battling with Carlos Sainz before the Ferrari driver drove deep into the Nouvelle Chicane and crashed into the rear of the Alpine.
This left the Spaniard with a broken front wing while Ocon had damage to the balance of the race.
Shortly after the halfway point, rain came.
Having stopped for the first time on lap 32 to change a set of hard tyres, after starting on medium, Ocon switched to intermediate on lap 54.
“Today’s race was a bit more difficult,” explained Ocon.
“We’ve been keeping this podium for a while, we had it secured, but at one stage I got contact from Carlos (Sainz) who damaged the rear of the car.
“Then the rain reshuffled everything again and we have to decide to intervene at the right time.
“From that point on, I was under a lot of pressure from Lewis.
“He was pushing full force until the last lap; he was faster in the wet sections from (turn) 5 to 8 and I was fast in the dry sections.
“It was extremely difficult to master this race, but the reward is huge.”