Esteban Ocon admits that fighting in the midfield is much tougher than being at the front after he withstood the pressure from those behind to take his first F1 win at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
After the Turn 1 melee on the opening lap of the race brought out the red flags, Ocon managed to avoid the chaos and soon found himself in the lead following the restart. The Frenchman did not put a foot wrong and avoided being pressured into a mistake from Sebastian Vettel, who was chasing him down in second.
This might have been the first time in a while that Ocon has stood on the top step of a podium, but the Alpine driver thinks that his battles in the middle of the pack provided him with good training for handling the race from the front.
"I'm sorry to disappoint, but it's easier to fight at the front, like we did now, [and] to manage the opponents that are behind, than to fight in the midfield [like] we are [usually] doing," Ocon told select media including RacingNews365.com.
"This is much harder, so we had good training the whole time. My whole time in Formula 1, I've had pretty good training. The fight in the midfield is a lot tougher than what's happening in the front.
"It was hard with Seb, obviously, putting a lot of pressure [on]. He gave me a hard time. But when you are ahead, you have clean air, you are the one who is dictating the pace on track, and in the end we just made everything perfect."
At the race restart, Ocon benefitted from the fact that Lewis Hamilton – who was in the lead – chose not to pit for dry tyres, whilst every other driver opted to do so given the drying conditions. This meant that Hamilton then had to pit to change his Intermediate tyres, resulting in him losing the lead to Ocon.
"Lewis normally doesn't take wrong decisions," the 24-year-old said. "I've never seen him taking a wrong decision.
"To box when you are P2, it's a bit heartbreaking at first, but [I'm] glad that we did it because we were a long way ahead, and the guys did a great pit-stop as well.
"I heard Sebastian had a slower stop. That's probably what made the difference, because they would probably have undercut us on that, so the guys in the garage did a top job."