Esteban Ocon will tap into his diverse past motorsport experiences to help bring “a new perspective and fresh advice” to the Renault F1 team in 2020.
After a year on the sidelines dedicated to simulator work with Mercedes, Ocon will return to the F1 fray next season with the ambition of helping his new team move up the grid and into the tight space currently occupied by the sport’s unassailable front-runners.
The 22-year-old will obviously rely on his talent to move the needle for Renault, but also on the precious knowledge he’s accumulated with Mercedes this season and the expertise he previously acquired in the sport.
“I’m currently working with the world champion team which has dominated Formula 1 for a few years. I learned a lot from Mercedes this year,” Ocon said in an interview with Auto Motor und Sport.
“I will also contribute my experiences with Force India. You must not forget my time in other racing series, like the DTM for example.
“I see certain things from a different angle and bring in a new perspective. They expect that from me.
“They want fresh air, advice and a different way of thinking. I hope I can help move the team forward.”
Ocon says the knowledge he’s gained this year during his forced sabbatical with Mercedes goes beyond the technical insight acquired from his countless hours in the Silver Arrows simulator or sitting in on debriefs.
The future Renault charger insists that standing on the other side of the fence has taught him a lot about how things work outside of the cockpit.
“What the team expects from a driver, how the team reacts to difficult situations, how to deal with their drivers, these are aspects that you usually do not notice,” he said.
“The driver in the cockpit doesn’t hear everything. I was able to look at it for a year from the outside.
“This will help me to make the right decisions and respond correctly to different scenarios, to make the team happy.
“I was in the middle of ‘silly season’, so I now know the politics around it. The work on the other hand is very complex. I prefer racing.”
Ocon’s basic contract with Renault is a two-year deal, which provides him in advance with a clear mind for 2021.
“Long-term contracts give you security in this sport,” he said.
“Sometimes a drive will quickly slip through your fingers. I learned that in 2018.
“It’s good that I do not have to worry about the next two years. I can concentrate on racing and I am not distracted from the outside. That whole thing is a job in its own right in Formula 1.
“This year I had the time to take care of it because I wasn’t driving. But you cannot combine both. I’m in the fortunate situation where I have people in my environment who help me.”
Speaking of those who are helping him, but from a driver’s perspective, Ocon underscored the precious support and counsel that he’s receiving from Renault advisor and four-time F1 world champion Alain Prost.
“I’ve been in contact with him a lot lately,” said Ocon. “He will be a great help to me.
“He’s become a mentor, a teacher, and he’ll give me good advice. When I talk to him, I never want it to stop. I am absorbing his words and we talk for hours.”
Prost never delivered a world title to Renault during the three seasons he raced for the French outfit. Can Ocon succeed where his illustrious countryman failed?
“I don’t know, we have to be realistic. That dream is far away,” he concedes.
“It is impossible in the current situation, but in Formula 1, many things can change quickly.
“The 2021 rules could upset everything. You never know who will build the best car. But right now, it looks too far away.”
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