Esteban Ocon: ‘You need to kill me’

Alpine’s Esteban Ocon endured a challenging race in Qatar amid extreme weather that added to the already tricky conditions on track.

Alpine’s Esteban Ocon displayed unwavering determination at the Qatar Grand Prix, declaring, “You need to kill me before I retire,” after enduring gruelling conditions that pushed him to his limits. 

The race weekend in Qatar was marked by scorching temperatures, with the mercury frequently soaring above 35 degrees Celsius. 

The intensity of the race was further heightened by the mandate for 18-lap maximum stints per tire compound, a precautionary measure to address concerns regarding the tires’ response to the kerbs. 

With less worry about tire wear, drivers were able to push their vehicles harder, leading to a continuous barrage of fast laps, all while grappling with the oppressive heat inside the cockpit.

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Ocon revealed that early in the Grand Prix, he experienced severe discomfort, including nausea, while Williams driver Logan Sargeant withdrew from the competition due to his deteriorating health.

Speaking to the media after the race, Ocon expressed his astonishment at the extremely challenging conditions he faced. 

He stated, “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 the visor in the straight line because I had no air. 

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“I was trying to also guide, with my hand, some air into the helmet because the more I was breathing to try and get everything lower, the more heat was coming inside the helmet. 

“It was hell in there. 

“But next year, we’re coming [later] so that should be better.”

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When asked if he had contemplated retiring from the race due to his physical discomfort, Ocon responded resolutely, saying, “No. You need to kill me before I retire. It’s true.”

Ocon is currently battling to finish in the top 10 of the Drivers’ standings, with just three points separating him from Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll.

Splitting the pair is Ocon’s teammate Pierre Gasly, with the two having put Alpine in P6 of the Constructors’ Standings.