Ocon to start third at Monza, sets sights on maiden F1 podium

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Esteban Ocon has set his sights on scoring his first Formula 1 podium in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix after starring in a frenetic qualifying session at Monza, clinching third place on the grid.

Ocon, 20, has been one of the stand-out drivers in F1’s midfield this year, scoring points in all but one race for Force India.

The Mercedes-backed youngster squeezed through to Q3 at the expense of teammate Sergio Perez before producing a fine lap in extreme wet conditions, finishing fifth overall.

Ocon will rise to third on the grid thanks to penalties for Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, meaning he will line up directly behind pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton.

“For sure, it’s amazing. That’s what the team deserves,” Ocon told NBCSN after qualifying.

“They work so hard on every aspect. To get the second row is something amazing. The car was brilliant, I managed to push it to the limits. I want my podium!”

When asked if a podium was possible, Ocon said: “Yes, definitely. We adjusted the car, we’ll work on the car like we did on Friday.

“We have a big opportunity ahead and we have to get it.”

The Italian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.