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Esteban Ocon




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Esteban Ocon


Emalleville, France
Emalleville, France

Official website:


Esteban's karting career began in 2006, age 9, when he finished eighth in the French Minime Championship. The following year he won the championship.

In 2008 he stepped up to the French Cadet Championship, winning the title at the first attempt, before moving up to the international scene a year later.

Moving up to KF3 for 2010 he remained there in 2011, winning the French title and finishing runner-up in the WSK Euro Series.

In 2012, Esteban made the switch to single-seaters, contesting the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 series.

A largely disappointing season saw him finish fourteenth overall, though this included a podium at his home round at Le Castellet.

The youngster also took part in a number of Formula Renault 2.0 Alps events with Koiranen, the Frenchman finishing seventh overall with two podiums, both of which came at the Red Bull Ring.

The following year he remained in Formula Renault, contesting the Eurocup and NEC with the ART Junior Team. Taking three podiums, including his maiden win (Le Castellet) he finished the Eurocup third overall.

Having contested the Macau Grand Prix with Prema Powerteam in 2013, he remained with the Italian outfit in 2014, contesting the European Formula 3 Championship. 21 podium finishes, including 9 wins, saw the youngster claim the title at the first attempt, winning the crown with a race to spare.

In addition to three rounds of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, 2014 also saw Esteban make his F1 debut, the youngster driving the Lotus in the post-season Abu Dhabi test.

Meantime, even before securing the F3 title, Esteban had been signed to Mercedes junior team.

2015 was another strong season for the youngster, taking the GP3 title at the first attempt, with ART Grand Prix, and F1 tests at Barcelona and the Red Bull Ring with Force India.

On 3 February, Esteban, was revealed as Renault's reserve driver, a week later he was confirmed as a member of Mercedes DTM squad.

On 11 August, at the height of the summer break, it was announced that Esteban would replace Rio Haryanto at Manor racing, the Indonesian driver having failed to raise the necessary backing.

Esteban's recruitment came at a time the youngster was enduring a difficult debut season in DTM, his best result to date being a 9th at Zandvoort.

Prior to his maiden Grand Prix, at Spa-Francorchamps, Esteban had made four FP1 appearances for Renault and driven both days of the Silverstone post-GP test for Mercedes.

Due to the fact that he only contested nine races it would be wrong to attempt to come to any sort of conclusion regarding Esteban.

In qualifying the youngster clearly struggled, but then Wehrlein had the luxury of those extra dozen outings. That said, in Malaysia and Japan he out-qualified the German.

Gradually finding his feet on race days he also soon had the better of the German, leading him home on no less than six occasions. Indeed, keeping out of trouble, though clearly not afraid to 'get down to it', Esteban finished every race he started.

In Brazil he looked set to add to the team's points tally, seemingly heading to a well-deserved ninth. However, unable to hold off the vastly more experienced Fernando Alonso and Valtteri Bottas, it was not to be.

An ambitious drive in Abu Dhabi saw the Frenchman battling Felipe Nasr, seemingly for the future of their respective teams, though ultimately his final outing of the year was marred by a clash with his Manor teammate.

It is said the pair had little time for one another, and the situation was hardly helped by the fact that Force India chose Esteban over Wehrlein when seeking a partner for Sergio Perez for 2017. Indeed, having been informed that the reason for his rejection was because he didn't gel with the team, Wehrlein's mood will not have been helped by his subsequent rejection for the Mercedes berth.

Heading into the new season, we wrote: "While it remains to be seen whether Force India can maintain its impressive form of 2016, it is unlikely the Silverstone based outfit will give Esteban a dud, and with a benchmark of the calibre of Perez, by the end of 2017 we should have a much better idea of the youngster's talent."

Indeed we did.

First off, the VJM10 wasn't a dud. Though it took a few races for the team to get into its stride - a period during which Perez gave some of his strongest performances - it was soon clear that 'the little team that could' was once again going to be 'best of the rest'.

The numbers say it all; on only one occasion did the team fail to score a point, while in 16 of the 20 races both drivers added to the team's tally. OK, there were no podiums, but with the obvious superiority of Mercedes and Ferrari, not to mention Red Bull, that was to be expected.

As for Esteban, his pace, determination and maturity caught many on the hop, not least his teammate, and as the season developed it became clear that we could always count on the Pink Panthers to entertain.

For much of the year the drivers appeared to be con-joined, be it qualifying or on race day the pair were constantly scrapping over the same piece of tarmac. Not only did they finish the season 7th and 8th, following the departure of Jolyon Palmer the first letters of their surnames meant they were together when drivers were listed alphabetically... there was no separating them.

Be it surprise as Esteban's talents or doubt in his own, Perez' unhappiness at the situation first really became apparent in Canada. Asked to move aside for his teammate in order that he might attack Ricciardo, the Mexican refused even though told the position would be handed back if the Frenchman was unsuccessful.

Weeks later the pair actually clashed on track in Azerbaijan, resulting in Perez's first DNF of the season. While the incident cost Esteban, who was wholly to blame for the clash, a better result also, the fact is that considering how the race ended, it was not entirely impossible that Perez might have made it to the podium, possibly even the top step.

Things really boiled over in Belgium however, when Perez twice forced his teammate into the wall on the infamous run down to Eau Rouge. An already tense situation was not helped by Esteban's claim that the Mexican had tried to kill him. As a result the team instituted a "no fighting" rule which remained in place for the remainder of the season, much to the disappointment of both drivers and millions of race fans.

In qualifying, while Perez was the quicker in the early stages of the season, as it developed so Esteban often got the upper hand, the Frenchman putting his car four places ahead of the Mexican at his home race.

Somehow able to continue despite the numerous clashes, Ocon gave new meaning to the word consistency, though Romain Grosjean finally put paid to his impressive run of 27 consecutive finishes when he took out the innocent Frenchman in Brazil.

His qualifying performance at Monza in atrocious conditions was one of the best of the year, while as early as Melbourne, where he skilfully dealt with Alonso, Sainz and Hulkenberg, it was clear a major new talent had arrived.

In his first full season, Esteban has more than proved himself, now in his second he has to build on that.

Having improved his qualifying in the later stages of the season, to go along with consistency and pace, he now has to hone his race craft. Another strong season in 2018 could well see him step into the second seat at Mercedes.

With France set to rejoin the calendar this year, what better time for the country that gave us Prost, Arnoux, Pironi, Beltoise, Cevert and Lafitte, in terms of Esteban and Grosjean, to have a couple more young chargers on the grid.

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