Esteban Ocon makes rare admission about former rival Max Verstappen

Sam Cooper
Max Verstappen and Esteban Ocon

Max Verstappen and Esteban Ocon have not always seen eye to eye in the past.

Esteban Ocon picked Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen as his two most naturally talented F1 drivers on the grid right now.

While Ocon has not enjoyed the best of starts with a lacklustre Alpine, Verstappen continues to pick up race wins while Leclerc has been on the podium, supporting Ocon’s claim that they are two of the best.

Esteban Ocon praises former foe Max Verstappen

It is not often you will find racing drivers rating others’ ability above their own but that question was put to Ocon on the High Performance Podcast.

And despite Ocon having had an infamous run in with Verstappen at the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix, he could not help but praise the reigning World Champion.

“Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen. I’ve raced with them since… Charles is 2005, and Max, 2010,” he said of the drivers with the most natural talent. “And it doesn’t matter what conditions we were in, you know, always neck and neck and in the top three always. So, them.”

As for the greatest driver ever, that was a more common answer.

“Michael Schumacher. Why? Because he was the more complete one.”

While Ocon is a race winner, the chances of him repeating that look a long way off as it stands.

Alpine are 10th in the standings and recently lost their technical chief but Ocon is confident they can turn it around.

“Obviously, it is a frustrating time as a driver, as an engineer, as a team boss, [for] everyone,” he said ahead of the race in Saudi.

“We don’t like the situation we’re in. We keep sticking together, all around the team and that’s the most important [thing].

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“If the morale goes down, everyone is down after such difficult times [when] you are going downhill. That’s not the case.”

However there has for the first time been the suggestion that the Frenchman could be considering leaving Alpine when his contract expires at the end of the season.

A move to Mercedes, who have an open seat, is not off the cards considering his past with the team, something he admitted during Alpine’s launch.

“I obviously still have strong links with Mercedes, I’m still a Mercedes junior driver, that is no secret to anyone,” Ocon told Sky Sports News on Wednesday at the launch of the team’s 2024 car.

“But I’m totally dedicated to Alpine this year, I’ve got 24 races to get through and we’ll see where we end up.

“Formula 1 is fierce, a lot of things can happen, as we can see, but I’m ready to take on the challenge.”

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