Renault’s Esteban Ocon believes that he is making good progress in Formula 1 qualifying, despite missing out on Q3 for the Portuguese Grand Prix.
The Frenchman finished the Q2 session in Portimao in 11th place, just 0.133s behind his team mate Daniel Ricciardo, who did get through.
At the last race in the Nurburgring the gap between the pair in the final session was just 0.019s, although on that occasion both men started well inside the top 10.
Ocon has been under some pressure recently as he has been outscored and outpaced by Ricciardo, but he sees the closer gap in qualifying as a positive sign.
“Definitely happier with the pace we have found recently,” he said.
“A bit frustrated that it’s always on the same side.When you have hundredths in Nurburgring and one-tenth here, it can go either way.
“I’m a lot happier with the way we work, with my side of the garage, we are understanding the weekend and just building up basically.
“It’s a lot better since a couple of events, so we will keep that going.”
Ocon admitted that the team had struggled to hone the car on the slippery Portimao track.
“We definitely struggled a bit more today and yesterday, just to use as best we could the tyres and try to get the balance of the car right.
“The rear has been light all weekend, it has been unstable.
“This was the main issue of the car the whole weekend, which we did improve, but not to the extent we wanted to. The positive thing I think is to have a free choice of tyre for tomorrow.
“We are not far from the points either. There could be some rain, so there’s plenty of stuff that can happen. But obviously today we struggled a bit more than recently.
“I hope we are going to be passing some cars, because we are obviously not where we want to be. The target is going to be to get back into the points.”
Ocon also witnessed Ricciardo spinning off in Q2 when caught out by the wind: “I was aware he was coming. I did let him through on the inside with quite a lot of space.
“But I did lose the car on the previous lap, on my side there, exactly.
“The wind picked up basically on that run, and he did take a gust of wind, as much as I did on the previous run.”