Esteban Ocon admitted to feeling “a little disappointed” not to have finished Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix on the podium, but felt sixth place was the maximum he could achieve for Force India against the quicker Formula 1 teams.
Ocon made a splash in a wet qualifying session at Monza by clinching third place on the grid, lining up behind Lewis Hamilton and Lance Stroll.
A good getaway saw Ocon pass Stroll into Turn 1, but he was slowly pulled back through the race as Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen all battled past.
Ocon led a close train including Stroll, Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez to the finish, clinching sixth place and matching his second-best result of the season.
“I really enjoyed the race and I’m happy with our performance. At the same time I’m a little disappointed because I really wanted to finish on the podium today,” Ocon admitted.
“But you have to be realistic and we didn’t have the pace to match Mercedes and Ferrari, so I think sixth place was the maximum we could achieve.
“At one stage we were racing against Raikkonen and I thought we could keep him behind, but he was just too quick. I also had a good battle with Stroll for most of the race and I had to work hard to keep him behind me.
“With the strong qualifying yesterday and the sixth place today, it’s been a great weekend. I have to say a big thanks to the whole team for all their hard work and for giving me such a competitive car.”
The result saw Ocon continue his impressive record of having finish every F1 race he has started, as well as moving to within three points of teammate Sergio Perez in the drivers’ standings.
The knee injury that kept Malcolm Stewart from mounting up for Anaheim 2 will require surgery and he will be sidelined for “an extended duration” of the Monster Energy Supercross season, according to the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team.
“I just wanted to give you guys an update,” Stewart said on Instagram. “It’s not the news you guys want to hear, but I took a spill last week and hurt my knee pretty bad to the point that we’re going to have to get surgery done.
“I’m definitely bummed out about it; I felt we were riding pretty good and were just now starting to get the ball rolling, but it is what it is.”
Stewart’s season started with high expectations until accidents in the first two rounds left him 15th in the standings.
He ended 2022 on a high note, finishing a career high third in the Supercross standings. He then missed the start of the Pro Motocross season with another knee injury.
The 2023 season appeared to live up to his expectations. Despite back-to-back accidents, Stewart contended for podiums at both Anaheim 1 and San Diego. He won his heat at San Diego.
“It was very tough to receive the news that Malcolm will need to undergo knee surgery,” Nathan Ramsey, Team Manager for the Husqvarna team said in a press release. “He has worked so hard to be in a position to win races this year and I truly believe he was ready.
“The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing program will support him in every way that we can through his recovery and we can’t wait to get him back on track and back at the races.”
Stewart joins 250 rider Jalek Swoll on the sidelines after he broke an arm in a practice session. Swoll will be relieved by Talon Hawkins beginning this week at Houston, Texas.
A replacement rider has not been announced for Stewart, which means the focus shifts to his 450 teammate Christian Craig, who currently sits 12th in the standings with three top-15s in the opening rounds.