Ocon on rivalry with Leclerc: "We had big battles"

22-05-2020 20:14 | Updated: 23-05-2020 01:07
by GPblog.com
F1 News
Ocon on rivalry with Leclerc: We had big battles

Esteban Ocon, after spending a year on the sidelines as a Mercedes test driver, will return to the starting grid of Formula 1 with Renault in 2020. The Frenchman talks about his first meetings with Charles Leclerc and Anthoine Hubert in a column on the official website of Formula 1.

Champion of the North

"In 2004 and 2005, I became mini kart champion in the north of France and there was a kid called Charles Leclerc who was champion in the south. I had heard of Charles, but knew very little about him", says Ocon.

Ocon says he first met Charles at a big kart race called the French Cup on the Magny Cours circuit. All regions of France met there. "Charles and I were fighting in the heats. I won, then he won and so on - we had some big battles", Ocon says.

Bad losers

At a young age the two F1 drivers were already very competitive. The two fought for the lead in the final, but hit each other in the last corner. "Charles didn’t finish as he was in the tyre barrier and I managed to finish fifth or sixth. Anthoine Hubert actually went on to win that race. I remember Charles and I were both crying, and our parents were together to try and make us happy again, but it was impossible as we were bad losers!"

"My big rival in karting was always Anthoine. He and I went quite far back as well. Sometimes my dad acted as his mechanic whenever he needed some help. We trained a lot together and he was my big rival opponent in 2008. He was the one fighting with me for the French Karting Championship; it was always very close with Anthoine", Ocon ends.

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