Renault Formula 1 driver Esteban Ocon says he could have qualified higher than fifth for the Styrian Grand Prix after having some “performance left on the table”.

Ocon was one of the stars of a wet qualifying session at the Red Bull Ring and claimed fifth on the grid thanks to a brilliant lap in the extreme conditions in what marked only his second race since returning to F1.

Despite securing his best starting position since he took third place during a damp qualifying at the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix, the Frenchman felt he could have been even higher up the order but for a strategic error in Q1 which meant he did not have a new set of wet tyres for Q3.

“I felt confident straight away from the go, but we didn’t have new tyres in Q3 because we used two sets in Q1, which was a mistake,” Ocon said. “From then on, it made Q3 a bit difficult, so I think there was performance left on the table.

“It’s been definitely a great qualifying. I’m very happy with the result, how it went in the end. Straight away from the go I felt quite comfortable in the car. I felt confident at the wheel and the performance was there each lap that I was putting on was decent.

“We didn’t do a wrong move. We could have improved a few things for the Q3 run as I have a new set of tyres there. Maybe we could have pushed a little bit higher up the order if we had a set there.

"But overall I’m very happy, it’s a very positive session, very happy to be in the top five for my new team after such a long period of inactivity. Hopefully we can complete a great weekend with some great points tomorrow.”

Ocon outqualified Renault teammate Daniel Ricciardo for the first time. The Australian recovered from a heavy crash on Friday to set the ninth-fastest time in qualifying but will start from eighth after Lando Norris’ three-place grid penalty is applied.

 

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