Ross Brawn has hailed Esteban Ocon for his “extraordinary performance” at the Hungarian Grand Prix, where he sealed his first Formula 1 victory.
Starting eighth on the grid, Ocon made the most of a chaotic start which saw Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Lando Norris involved in a crash, and moved up into second.
Following the red flag restart the Frenchman jumped into first, with Lewis Hamilton the only driver not to come into the pits ahead of the restart, only to come in a lap later.
From there, Ocon fought off a number of attacks from Sebastian Vettel behind him to secure the win, with a little help from his teammate Fernando Alonso who held up a charging Hamilton for eight laps late on.
Looking back on a crazy race with a surprise outcome, Brawn hailed Ocon for making the most of his opportunity.
“This was an extraordinary performance from Esteban Ocon,” he wrote in his post-race column. “He has had a tough season as his team mate Fernando set a new benchmark for him. This race will be massive for the Frenchman. He was under pressure for 70 punishing laps and he didn’t put a foot wrong. Sebastian was hassling him the whole time.
“While he was fortunate to get in front, when he got there, he seized his opportunity. He also beat his team mate. All these factors will help build his confidence. He now knows that if he gets the chance to win a race, he is capable of getting the job done. He’s won in junior categories before but F1 is a step up – and he has delivered on the highest stage.”
Vettel finished second on the road but was stripped of his podium later on Sunday night for failing to provide a one litre fuel sample, a situation Brawn described as “disappointing”.
“With his current demeanour, performance and approach, I can’t help but feel we have the old Sebastian back,” he added. “So it’s disappointing for him and the team that he was disqualified for failing to have enough fuel to supply a sample.
“While the loss of points is frustrating, he can take heart from his performances of late. I have to put my hands up and say I had my doubts when he went to Aston Martin, as the end of Ferrari career was pretty disappointing for everyone – but he has had a new lease of life.
“He was very close to taking that victory. It’s great to see him performing like that. He made no mistakes and pushed Esteban hard. That little problem in the pit stop might have been a factor in not getting past Esteban or at the very least would have made it a closer fight when his rival exited the pits. Like Fernando, Sebastian is born again. He’ll be hoping for a better ultimate result next time around.”