Esteban Ocon believed a podium place was possible during the Mexican Grand Prix which saw the Frenchman equal his best result of his career finishing in fifth place.
After quickly making up places through the melee of carbon fibre in Turn 3, the 21-year old managed to carve his way through to move up to third where he ran for the first half of the race.
Once Kimi Raikkonen had past Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll, the virtual safety car put pay to Ocon’s strategy as the Ferrari made up valuable time with his pitstop, putting pay to any chances of a podium finish.
“It’s a great day for the team,” said Ocon. “Fifth place in the race and securing fourth place in the championship is a fantastic achievement after a strong season. For a while I believed the podium was possible because I was sitting in third place for so long.
“I made a great start and then I pushed as hard as I could in the free air. Sadly the Virtual Safety Car gave Kimi an advantage during the pit stops and he was able to overtake us.”
In the final laps of the race Ocon found himself under pressure from the Williams of Lance Stroll and pushed as hard as possible to stay ahead, but the challenge came late enough for him to hold off the Canadian’s challenge.
“The final few laps of the race with Stroll behind me were not easy,” added Ocon. “He had fresher tyres and managed to catch me, so I had to give it everything to stay ahead.”
Having helped the team secure fourth place in the constructors’ for the second season in succession, deputy team principal Bob Fernley added: “It’s fantastic to confirm fourth place in the championship with a competitive race in front of so much support from the Mexican fans.
“For a while the podium looked to be within reach for Esteban until the Virtual Safety Car handed the advantage to Raikkonen and also brought Stroll into play. Esteban had to work hard for the final 20 laps fending off the Williams and did a fantastic job despite being on older tyres.”