Esteban Ocon ended 2023 on a low note in terms of his health, and says he is taking steps to try fending off illness in 2024.
The French driver came down with an illness in the week of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, forcing him to miss the media day at the event as he tried to recover in time for the weekend.
Ocon was able to take part in the final two races, but finished the season under a cloud as he needed some time to rest and recover following the grueling schedule with 22 races over the course of the year.
Esteban Ocon: 80 percent of the paddock was sick
Additional reporting by Sam Cooper
Having fully recovered as he spoke to media, including PlanetF1.com, at the launch of the Alpine A524 this week, Ocon said he intends to try taking steps in his own fitness preparation to try avoiding situations like what befell him at the end of 2023.
“Yeah, I will do something very different – that’s clear,” he said.
“But yeah, I got quite unlucky with the Las Vegas event.
“Obviously, we were meeting a lot of people in that weekend, and we didn’t see the sunlight for four or five days.
“So it was quite hard and everyone got sick, 80 percent of the paddock or so got sick at the time, but yes, I’m going to be doing things very differently this year.”
Joking, Ocon said he’s hopeful he’s got all his 2024 illnesses out of the way already.
“I’ve been sick enough this winter so that I got all my immune system ready for the year,” he said.
“So yeah, I’ve been training well, I’m going to be back at my training centre every day in between races, limiting most of the things that should not happen and focusing on the racing side. ”
The Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix that were held on consecutive weekends to round out the 2023 season came at the end of what had already been a frantic second half of the season.
With a 12-hour time difference thrown in on top of that, Las Vegas proved to have taken a particularly hard toll on the paddock as staff showed up in Abu Dhabi already exhausted.
Ocon said that the combination of the unusual hours for two consecutive weekends, including the time difference adjustment, as well as the lengthy F1 schedule, had played a big role in his illness.
F1 is set to host 24 races in 2023, a record-breaking schedule, and Ocon said he doesn’t believe the human body – even when trained to F1 standards – is able for so many races without sufficient downtime.
“There’s a lot of things that are pushing on the human body,” Ocon said in Abu Dhabi.
“Usually it’s when you come home from here, when [illness] happens.
“It’s one more race than last year , or two more races. The body is designed for that and not 24 or 23 races. So let’s see if we can escape from that [this] year.