Drive to Survive helped Ocon in year on F1 sidelines

Henry Valantine
Esteban Ocon and Laurent Rossi celebrate winning the 2021 Hungarian GP

Esteban Ocon celebrates victory in the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix alongside Alpine CEO, Laurent Rossi.

Esteban Ocon has said F1 docuseries Drive to Survive played a role in helping him through his time without a drive on the F1 grid.

The extremely popular Netflix show aired its first series as it followed the Frenchman through a difficult period in his F1 career, as he ended up being left without a seat for the 2019 season.

A fourth series of the show is being filmed throughout the 2021 season, and Ocon feels it has been a force for good in showcasing Formula 1 to potentially gain new fans around the world.

Ocon returned to the grid with Renault in 2020, but he said having the cameras show his side of the story to the world offered context that wouldn’t normally be seen to fans – which ultimately gave him more support in his time away.

“[Drive to Survive] takes a lot of time and a lot of dedication, but it helped me,” the sport’s newest race winner told Pistonheads. “At the time, I didn’t have a drive. Then the season came out and people could see my story, so I got a lot of support from that. I think it was fantastic.

“The series is great because for the audience, when you are watching the racing, you could see it as a little bit robotic, that nobody had emotions, or that it was a flat sport in terms of atmosphere.

“Netflix came on the inside and showed how everything was working. It widened the audience, and they could see that there’s a lot of emotion.

“There are some funny characters, and it’s great that people can see we have an interesting paddock. It’s great to be able to show some spotlights on everybody.”

Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso, pre-season testing. Bahrain March 2021.
Alpine drivers Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso before pre-season testing. Bahrain March 2021.

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One person to come back under the spotlight of Netflix this season will be Ocon’s Alpine team-mate, Fernando Alonso.

The Frenchman has been full of praise for the double World Champion in their time together at Alpine so far – not least for his role in helping him win in Hungary – and having now shared a garage with him, knows just how much the Spaniard can bring to the team.

“[Alonso] is a legend of the sport, and you can see why he’s been so successful,” he said. “Just working alongside him, he has great ideas in what to bring, helping the team get the car how he wants.

“You can feel how clever he is and how he’s thinking out of the box. That’s pretty interesting, and it’s a great experience, and great to have him as my team-mate. The atmosphere in the team is fantastic.”