‘Ocon knows what he needs to do for Renault’

Michelle Foster
Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo

Esteban Ocon must set "realistic" goals against Daniel Ricciardo says Cyril Abiteboul.

Esteban Ocon will need to step up to the plate in his first season at Renault with Cyril Abiteboul saying the drivers must lead the team.

This season Ocon is back racing, or at least he will be when the season begins.

The Frenchman has signed with Renault, partnering Daniel Ricciardo at the Enstone team.

For Ocon it is a welcome return to the grid after losing his drive at the end of the 2018 season, replaced at Racing Point by Lance Stroll.

Abiteboul concedes there is a lot of work still to be done at Renault, and is backing Ocon to help lead the charge.

“He knows the job he has, he knows where we are, the journey, what he has to do on track, but also off track,” the team boss told Sky Sports.

“I’m not denying the fact we are still in the making, there is still an awful lot that needs to be done at a team level, and we need aspirational drivers.

“I don’t believe, frankly, that it’s just the job of a team principal to lead the team.

“It’s actually, probably, more the job of a driver to do that because at the end of the day we’ve got a bit more than 1,000 people who are working day in day out for something, and that something is the two drivers who get the responsibility to drive the race car.

“We know very much it’s at the back of our mind that when we go for drivers, clearly it’s his pace, his talent, but also his attitude off track, and that’s very much what I can already say about Esteban.”

With the start of the 2020 season delayed, Abiteboul has yet to witness Ocon’s antics during a grand prix weekend first hand.

He does, however, believe the Frenchman’s input to date has been “invaluable”.

“I can’t say much about the on-track yet with us,” he added. “I know what he’s done with Force India, with Manor, and previously in his career.

“But what he has said, what he has done already with us is invaluable. He walked into the factories – maybe a bit more so in the French factory in Viry – and immediately the sort of halo of goodwill, of trust, of loyalty, of pride, that walked with him through the factory is quite unique.

“Frankly, it was remarkable when for the first time Daniel walked into the factory in the UK in Enstone. But it’s equally remarkable the sort of attitude of Esteban when he walked into the factory in France, probably for different reasons.

“But this combination is very exciting. I can’t wait to see it in action. Unfortunately, I need to wait a bit more.”

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