Ocon: ‘You need to kill me to retire’
By Ian Parkes
Saturday 14th October, 2023 - 7:30pm
Esteban Ocon has revealed he went through “hell” during last weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix but at no stage did he consider retiring.
Ocon finished a creditable seventh in his Alpine at the end of 57 gruelling laps driven in energy-sapping heat and humidity that has sparked an analysis from the FIA to “provide recommendations for future situations of extreme weather conditions”.
Although next year’s race takes place two months later in early December when temperatures are expected to be cooler, the matter is still due to be discussed at an upcoming medical commission meeting in Paris.
Ocon was one of those seriously affected as he conceded to throwing up inside his helmet on laps 15 and 16 but managed to continue through to the chequered flag to claim six points, claiming them to be “the hardest” he has “ever had to fight for”.
The French driver has revealed his own mental strength helped see him through to the end of the race, although at the time he was ill, he was left thinking “‘Shit! It’s going be a long long race.'”
He added: “I tried to calm down, to remember that the mental side in sport is the strongest part of your body, and I managed to get that under control and finish the race, but honestly, I was not expecting it to be that hard.
“I can normally do two race distances, even in Singapore. Physically, muscle-wise, and cardio-wise, I’m always fine.
“But I don’t know, it was just like 80 degrees inside the cockpit. I don’t think we do the best job in terms of being unable to keep the heat in the back, and it dissipating inside the cockpit. I think that was the reason I felt so bad.
“Glad that we finished the race. (It was) a hard one, well deserved, the maximum we could have done, but a happy ending.”
Suggested to Ocon that being forced into four punishing stints, effectively at qualifying pace, due to issues surrounding Pirelli’s tyres was a contributing factor, he replied: “Maybe.
“But honestly, in Jeddah, that’s how it feels, a flat-out push from start to finish, but I never felt something like that.
“It was so hot that I wanted to open my visor in a straight line because I had no air. I was also trying to guide some air into my helmet with my hand but I couldn’t.
“The more I was breathing to try and get everything lower, the more heat was coming inside the helmet. Honestly, it was hell in there.
“Next year, we’re coming in December so that should be good.”
Asked whether he had considered retirement when he was being ill, he said: “It was not an option. You need to kill me to retire.”