Esteban Ocon Scores Maiden F1 Win in Hungary

Above all else, Esteban Ocon celebrates his inaugural Formula 1 victory at the Hungaroring. (Photo: Mark Thompson | Getty Images Europe)

Above all else, Esteban Ocon celebrates his inaugural Formula 1 victory at the Hungaroring. (Photo: Mark Thompson | Getty Images Europe)

All things considered, Esteban Ocon and his No. 31 Alpine F1 team delivered the latest feel good Formula 1 moment.

Certainly, the 24-year-old Evreux, France native capitalized in grand fashion in his Alpine A521 at the Hungaroring. While Ocon started from the eighth position, he expertly carved his way through the opening lap melee in turn 1.

Moreover, Esteban Ocon staved off some hardy challenges from four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel. Indeed, Ocon, with great pit stops and handy driving from two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso, realized one of his crowning moments.

Together with great teamwork, Esteban Ocon enjoys his first F1 win. (Photo: Lars Baron | Getty Images Europe)

Together with great teamwork, Esteban Ocon enjoys his first F1 win. (Photo: Lars Baron | Getty Images Europe)

“What a moment, what a moment!” Ocon said after his victory. “It feels so good. It’s the first victory since the Renault Group came back into Formula 1. We had some difficult moments this season, which we overcame with the tea. We cam back to a fantastic pace in Silverstone and you know, victory today! What can I say? It’s fantastic, so congrats to Fernando as well because I think the win is also thanks to him, all the fights that he did, his teamwork all that. It’s been a fantastic day.”

By all means, Ocon drove a masterful race when a series of events unfolded. First, Ocon avoided a seven car, opening lap crash in turn 1 that resulted in a red flag. The crash eliminated Charles Leclerc, Sergio Perez, Lando Norris, Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll.

Additionally, the crash involved points leader Max Verstappen. In this case, Verstappen’s No. 33 Red Bull Racing Honda team repaired the damage as efficiently as possible.

Then, Lewis Hamilton, the polesitter, found himself in no man’s land. When he stayed on track as he retained the lead, his competitors switched from intermediate tyres to slicks.

As a result, Hamilton pitted afterward with Ocon inheriting the lead on lap five. Consequently, Hamilton dropped to 14th and in an uphill battle for the remainder of the race.

On the other hand, Ocon cashed in on the rare mistake by Hamilton and his No. 44 Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team. Regardless of the circumstances, Ocon expressed confidence with his fast Alpine.

“When I saw Lewis going on Inters, I saw Sebastian behind on Inters, I felt quite relaxed because, from where we were, there was quite a lot of water still, clearly,” Ocon observed. “But the sun came out and basically the track was drying at such speed that we were not expecting I think anybody. So, we arrive into Turn One and it was dry already. So I said to the team because it’s another start after the red flag, so you are able to talk.

“If we were not able to talk, probably would have been a different story. But yeah, it was clear to me that it was dry, so I was discussing it with the team what to do. What put me in a bit of doubt was Lewis continuing straight – because Lewis and the team, Mercedes, they usually don’t make mistakes at all, so yeah, I got a bit in doubt once that happened but it was definitely the clear thing to do, so we box.”

From there, Ocon drove masterfully to the onset of the Hungarian Grand Prix. On balance, Ocon carved through the backmarkers and held off a determined Vettel.

Still, Ocon faced a delicate balancing act especially with approaching his fellow on track rivals.

While Sebastian Vettel was disqualified following the podium celebration, Ocon and Hamilton enjoyed a Hungarian podium celebration. (Photo: LAT Images)

While Sebastian Vettel was disqualified following the podium celebration, Ocon and Hamilton enjoyed a Hungarian podium celebration. (Photo: LAT Images)

“Yes. I was not enjoying blue flags, I have to say,” Ocon said. “Blue flags and me is not a great story, either behind or now in front. Yeah, it was very, very close. Once I got the dirty air, I think we were a little bit slower overall than Sebastian in this race and that slowed me down, basically. I was struggling to get into the blue flag or Antonio, for him to clear, and Sebastian got DRS because of that, and yeah, I mean he almost made a move.

“He was very, very close. A bit too close for comfort. I just managed to put the gap then, in the tight section and yeah, the car felt amazing in that tight section. We could pull the gap, so yeah, not all under control but yeah, good enough!”

As a matter of fact, Ocon was good enough on Sunday for his first F1 win. Correspondingly, Ocon triumphed for the first time since his GP3 victory in 2015.

Without delay, Hamilton, who initially crossed the stripe in third, placed second due to Vettel’s disqualification for a fuel sample issue. Notably, Hamilton was worn out following his hard charging runner up result.

“I’m OK, yeah,” Hamilton said. “Yeah, I had real dizziness and everything got a bit blurry on the podium. I’ve been fighting all year, really, with the health, you know staying healthy after what happened at the end of last year and it’s still… it’s a battle.”

At the same time, Hamilton showcased his trademark resiliency throughout the Hungarian Grand Prix. Immediately, Hamilton, the new points leader, sung his praises for his team’s effort.

Remarkably, Lewis Hamilton nearly overcame an early race setback at the Hungaroring. (Photo: Steve Etherington | Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team)

Remarkably, Lewis Hamilton nearly overcame an early race setback at the Hungaroring. (Photo: Steve Etherington | Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team)

“This weekend has been very strong and definitely surprising to see how strong it is compared to them so proud of everyone back at the factory, as I said, who continue to not give up,” he said. “Even with today, the big mess-up, the team has still not given up, keep pushing and that’s what we do. We never give up. We keep pushing and fighting and I’m so honoured to be able to race for a team like this and we learn from these mistakes. Unfortunately, we wish they didn’t happen, but it’s not how you fall, it’s how you get back up.”

Similarly, Carlos Sainz and his No. 55 Scuderia Ferrari team rebounded after a qualifying crash on Saturday afternoon. Sainz recorded his second podium finish of the season.

Altogether, Alonso, Pierre Gasly, Yuki Tsunoda, Nicholas Latifi, George Russell, Verstappen and Kimi Räikkönen rounded out the top 10 points paying positions. Significantly, Latifi and Russell scored the first points in anger for Williams Racing since the 2019 German Grand Prix.

Next, the F1 stars take a three-week summer break before resuming the action at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday (August 29 at 9 a.m. ET on ESPN). Hamilton, the defending Belgian Grand Prix winner, looks to extend his eight point lead over Verstappen.

Rob Tiongson

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes.

From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat.

Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Communications at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's just as happy to be a Texan.

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