Ocon grateful for ‘crucial’ early test

Michelle Foster
Esteban Ocon wants to be on the podium in 2020.

Esteban Ocon wants to be on the podium in 2020.

Stepping into his new job on Tuesday, Esteban Ocon believes his early tests with Renault will be “crucial” ahead of his 2020 F1 return.

After a year on the sidelines as Mercedes’ third driver, Ocon will be back on the Formula 1 grid next season having been signed as Nico Hulkenberg’s replacement.

The Frenchman got down to business with his new team in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday after Mercedes released him to test for Renault.

Ocon completed 77 laps with a best time of 1:39.962, which he set using the 2020 C4 Pirellis.

“It’s crucial and definitely it’s going to help me massively,” he told Autosport.

“Because you arrive to testing in February with an advantage, because you have your position [in the car] fixed, you have things that you verified on track, which it’s great to have the chance for that.

“I didn’t get much driving time this year, and to have even fewer days in February, it’s a big problem.

“So to have these two days here it’s basically a counter for the days we are lacking in February.”

Ocon was delighted with his first day with Renault despite a minor seat issue limiting his running.

“It’s a fantastic feeling, to be back,” he said.

“I was so excited for today, I’ve been waiting for that day for months and finally it happened.

“Good first impression, the team gave me a very warm welcome, which is always very satisfying. Seeing some old faces, some new faces as well, which is great.

“And we properly started to work on all the little details, and towards the afternoon I started to get closer and closer to the limit.

“It felt good. Obviously there’s always a lot that you can improve, but the engine is also something new for me since a couple of years – good power.

“Then, of course, the balance, you need to always work on it. I think we have a solid base that we can continue [from on Wednesday].”

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