Esteban Ocon "thought people would forget" his ability during year out

23-01-2020 08:41 | Updated: 23-01-2020 11:40
by Adam Newton
F1 News
Esteban Ocon thought people would forget his ability during year out

Esteban Ocon makes his long-awaited return to F1 this year following his season out of F1 as Mercedes' test driver. The Frenchman was left without a seat at the end of 2019 after Lance Stroll made the switch to Racing Point, but Ocon will make his comeback with Renault in 2020.

F1 is a cruel world, so taking a year out can often do plenty of damage to a youngster's career. We've seen the likes of Pascal Wehrlein, Jean-Eric Vergne and Stoffel Vandoorne lose their seats and not return to F1 recently, despite all being talented drivers, so Ocon knew making a comeback was never going to be a formality.

He told ESPN: "My life has always been turning around motorsport and there hasn't been anything else. I have been sacrificing everything for it, and spending a year without racing leaves a big hole, for sure. The only thing I have been thinking is to come back very quickly.

I thought people would forget a bit, because I was not on the grid, not performing, and early in the year when the driver market was quiet, it was a very long period for me.

"I was asking myself lots of questions, but then the team [Mercedes] did a fantastic job to find solutions and we were really working hard on all the topics and they were on top of it because we managed to find a great option for me [at Renault]."

How good is Ocon?

Ocon has had two and a half seasons in F1 already, making his debut for Manor Racing at the 2016 Belgian Grand Prix. He impressed there and made the move to Force India for 2017, where he really showed his talent.

Incredibly, he managed to finish in the points in all but two races, claiming eighth in the standings. 2018 was more difficult for the team in general, and he only finished P12, but he gave teammate Sergio Perez plenty to think about.

Having just turned 22 when he was squeezed out of the sport, hopefully the year off hasn't affected his ability and he can give Daniel Ricciardo a run for his money in 2020.

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