Ocon explains why he wore a mask in Australia

Jamie Woodhouse
Renault face mask

Esteban Ocon says "very different" R.S.20 will show up for Austria.

Renault’s Esteban Ocon has explained how he was taking every possible precaution, including wearing a mask, at the Australian Grand Prix.

To the surprise of many, including reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton, Formula 1 tried to get the 2020 season underway at Albert Park despite the global impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

But after a McLaren employee tested positive for the virus, a series of meetings were held which ultimately caused the Australian Grand Prix to be cancelled.

That was set to be Ocon’s first race back in the series since 2018 after sitting out last year while serving as Mercedes’ reserve driver.

And one of the early talking points was the rather snazzy mask he was wearing around the circuit – the Frenchman said it was just one of several precautions he was taking to make sure his return to F1 would go ahead as planned.

In his column for the F1 website, Ocon wrote: “Leaving Barcelona, we all felt relatively confident the car had a good base. Testing was all about learning the car, seeing how it behaved and solve the little issues.

“We did that over the days, we improved the car and discovered a lot on what was good and not so good. It was a learning curve and certainly a positive one.

“Of course, Australia for round one is when you see what everyone has to offer, including yourselves, but quietly, I thought we could have done well there.

“We arrived there feeling confident and the engineers with experience had a good feeling with how we were going to perform. I guess, we’ll have to wait and see now!

“In all honesty, I found Australia pretty strange. I decided to wear a mask when I arrived and left the track on Thursday. It was well over 450 days since I last arrived at a race weekend in preparation for a race and I wanted to take every measure possible to not miss out, it’s been too long. I’ve trained this whole time and I wanted to be as strong as possible.

“So I thought it would be best to be cautious with what’s happening and be sensible for others. Of course, it’s out of all our hands with what’s going on, but I wanted to make sure I was doing all I could to be ready. I didn’t want anything stopping me from racing again.

“I did, however, do a couple of laps of the circuit in a Renault, just not my Number 31 Formula 1 car! Driving the Megane Trophy R was the best part of the week! I had a lot of fun. I have one at home, so I know how cool it is to drive and on track it’s another beast, so that was nice.”

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