F1Weekly podcast # 815


F1Weekly’s exclusive interview with
Esteban Ocon at the 2019 Abu Dhabi GP.

Photo: Humansideofracing.com

“Future is so bright I need some shades.” Things are going great for the young Frenchman. With a little help from Toto and Renault he is back on the track in 2020.

Q. First of all, welcome back to the world of Formula 1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you or do we need a bigger scale?

A. “Bigger scale, I think. Thank you for the welcome back but I never really left this F1 world. I was always here as soon as there was an engine firing up. I was here waiting and ready to jump.”

Q. In your brief Formula 1 career so far you were already king of consistency. Moving forward what is the game plan, maximum attack on Daniel Ricciardo or keep calm and carry-on to score many points?

A. “Well, it will be to score as many points as possible. You know that is important in the championship. There are sometimes when you need to take a bit of risk. But you need to think about what you are going to win and what you’re going to lose from that. So, there is always a thought going behind risk-taking.”

Q. Sounds like you are learning from Sebastian and Leclerc?

A. “Why? No, I always thought myself about this, no, no, no. I’ve been driving since a lot of times so I take the experience in obviously.”

Q. We all know Formula 1 is serious dog eat dog world, in terms of driving style are there many similarities between you and Danny, and do you expect any help from him in terms of set up and data sharing?

A. “I don’t know his driving style yet. But for sure I think we will work together with all the engineers, data sharing and all those things will be, of course, normal things. And I hope we can make the team move forward from that.”

Q. Renault won the very first Grand Prix in this world. Are you extra happy to be with a French team?

A. “Yes, yes, more than happy. It’s the team where I grew up with in Enstone since 2010, I was part of the program till 2014 so I really grew up in the factory there and it felt like a story which should not have ended, so I am pretty happy to continue it now.”

Photo. The Guardian.

Sparks fly when young guns clash. The famous Sao Paulo Samba between Esteban and “force of nature” Max during the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix.

Q. You and Max were in the news after the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix. Will there be exchange of Christmas cards in December so we, the race fans, know that everything is cool between the two of you?

A. “We actually had a cool race with the road car on the Pirelli hot laps yesterday. We had two laps of racing, we had good fun and then we had a good laugh when we came out of the car. So, no problem between us.”

Q. Success has been part and parcel of your racing life. From Karting to F3 and GP3, was there a particular season or series where you felt you improved the most?

A. “I think every year has been useful for me to develop myself, of course, some years have been more difficult than others. All in all, I think the more categories you do, the more things you see the more useful it is before coming to F1 because it’s more experience. I don’t think one year is less useful than another, I think they all have been useful.”

Q. Among all the drivers you have raced against from Karting to Formula 1, who stand out as real tough competitors?

A. “I think Max and Charles really. They were the ones where we raced the whole time together. Of course, quick competitors but tough ones also on the track. I think we pushed ourselves forward all our career, basically that helps bring the level up when we arrive into Formula 1. It’s been quite a few years with them.”

Q. From your Karting days what events stand out?

A. “I have been three times French champion. I finished second in the World Series Karting which is like the world championship and those are my main wins.”

Q. When you moved from Karting to single seaters how challenging was the adjustment or did it come naturally to you?

A. “No, it took some time. it took a year to really get very, very comfortable. Of course, I was against a very quick teammate, who was Daniil Kvyat who had three years of racing in single seaters (experience). As soon as I was in my second year I was fighting for the title. From there on it was good.”

Q. Before you got picked up by Gravity management who was guiding your career?

A. “My parents. Then it’s always been Eric Boullier and Gwen, who still works for Mercedes now, still manage the junior program. So, we’ve come a long way since that time.”

Q. In 2020, you remain under Mercedes management. How did this deal happen? Did Toto call you or did you send him a case of French wine?

A. “No, it’s a bit more complicated than that. In 2014, I won the Formula 3 championship and the program got lost a bit, and they ran out of money so I had no program for 2015.

“So, I called Toto and said look, because I met him in that year, I don’t have any possibilities for next year at the moment can you find me something? He said if Lotus can’t do anything for you, I take you under the Mercedes star.

“I waited couple of months and that’s what he did. Definitely thankful for Toto and everything he has been helping on since 2015.”

Q. How was your time in DTM?

A. “I choose back in the day to do that. I wanted to be a professional driver straight away coming from, you know my background. Of course, there was no secure thing if I was going to go to F1. or not and I wanted to be professional straight away.

“In the end it was a fantastic step up because it has good preparation for Formula 1. Back in the days they had tire blankets, full on engineers, cars they were very complicated. Yeah, I went from there to Formula 1 and felt more or less I was doing the same. So, it has been good to do that.”

Q. For 2020, has Renault set any goals for you to achieve?

A. “I think you can probably ask Cyril on what the objective are? In my opinion what we want to achieve is improving from where they are this year and just do better than what they have done. That’s the target, of course, I want to score podiums, that would be fantastic but we will see. Let’s start first and see later.”

Q. Your favorite tracks? I’m guessing Spa is there?

A. “No, Spa is not. I am a bit different than any other driver on that; Suzuka, Budapest, Monaco.”

Q. Do you enjoy racing in the wet?

A. “Yes, very much, very much. Enjoy? Yes and no. But you know when I’m on it I feel at ease really. It’s a condition I like.”

Q. Sadly, grid girls are gone from F1, in your time in F1 which Grand Prix had the best looking chicas de pista?

A. “That was before my time so I don’t know. I can’t really tell you. We still have some kind of grid girls sometimes. It’s good that we also have kids that can have the chance to meet us and all that. I think we probably could have both all in all.”

Q. Do you enjoy meeting fans?

A. “I don’t mind. It’s awesome to see the support. A lot of fans give gifts to me.”

Esteban extremely delighted to celebrate the agreement to receive F1weekly’s famous check with many 000000s.

– – Nasir Hameed

Play Podcast: 01-14-20f1weekly815.mp3