Ocon excited to race at ‘very unusual’ Baku again

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Esteban Ocon, Alpine

Esteban Ocon will leave Alpine contract talks to his management.

He may not have had the best of times there in the past, but Esteban Ocon says he’s looking forward to returning to Baku.

The Frenchman has taken part in Formula 1 races at the circuit in Azerbaijan on two occasions and has been caught up in incidents in both of them.

In 2017, he collided with Racing Point team-mate Sergio Perez at Turn 1, causing him to pick up a puncture and forced the Mexican to retire.

That year, he recovered to finish in P6, but he wasn’t so lucky in 2018 as he failed to finish the race after coming together with Kimi Raikkonen at the start.

Nevertheless, he’s excited to return to the circuit which he deems “very unusual.”

“I like racing in Baku,” he said in the Alpine preview.

“It’s a very unusual circuit where, as we’ve seen in the past, anything can happen. It’s an interesting layout with the long straights, followed by some very challenging and closely spaced corners in sector two.

“We go from one street circuit in Monaco, a short lap and difficult for overtaking, to Baku, another street circuit, which is almost opposite as it’s long with plenty of overtaking spots. The atmosphere at these city-based street circuits is always great.

“Everything feels really close to the track and you can feel the sensation of speed even more. It’s a circuit where you can see three or more cars go wheel to wheel down the straights, which, on a street track, is incredible. That’s what makes the race in Baku so exciting as there are opportunities to make some places.”

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After struggling up against Daniel Ricciardo last season, Ocon has made an excellent start to this one, getting the better of Fernando Alonso is all but the first round.

Last time out in Monaco, he secured a strong result, picking up two points, and was largely happy with how he performed there, although he feels the team need to be stronger in Baku.

“I left Monaco feeling reasonably pleased,” he added.

“We’ve made it four points-scoring finishes in a row, and we want to keep that going.

“Monaco underlined some areas we need to improve. We had expected to be more competitive than what we achieved, so we go to Baku aiming to put ourselves higher inside the top ten.

“I’ve not been to Baku for a couple of years and, like last weekend, I’ll build up my confidence in the car through the practice sessions.”

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