Esteban Ocon hasn’t enjoyed the best return to Formula 1, and Jolyon Plamer thinks that that’s largely because of Daniel Ricciardo.
The Frenchman quickly proved himself to be one of the sport’s most exciting young talents driving for Force India in 2017 and 2018. There, he was often more than a match for experienced team-mate Sergio Perez.
Despite this, he was left without a seat for the 2019 season but was handed a route back onto the grid by Renault this year. However, he’s struggled to recapture his impressive form of two years ago.
Driving in the same team as Ricciardo, Ocon has finished ahead of the Aussie only once when both have finished a race and has scored 27 points less.
Former Renault driver Palmer thinks that Ocon’s team-mate has been one of the stand-out drivers of the season.
“He is driving the wheels off his Renault and has been unlucky not to be on the podium already this season with fourth places at Silverstone, Spa and Mugello,” he said in his BBC column.
“Ricciardo is making it a very tough return season for Esteban Ocon, a young French star who has seemed destined for greatness.”
“Ocon has had promising moments but is yet to be fully on top of things in 2020.
Ocon himself believes that he’s making progress, and, after finishing in P7 last time out at Sochi, stated that for the first stint, it was his best race since making his comeback.
“Probably the first part of the race I agree that it was probably the strongest of my season so far,” he told Motorsport.com.
“I had a good start, and the pace was very, very strong. In that soft stint very comparable to Daniel, except that I managed to keep the tyres a bit more alive for a couple more laps, which definitely felt nice.
“Unfortunately, after the stop with the hard tyres, it was a bit more difficult. So we still have a few things to review on that.
“There were potentially a few more points on the table on my side possible, but you know, we’re getting there. It’s quite a good sign that we had such a good pace in the first stint.”
With Fernando Alonso joining him at Renault next season, things aren’t going to get any easier for the 24-year-old.