Admittedly, every Formula 1 driver’s nightmare is to be dropped by their team after a tryst among the big boys. However, Mercedes reserve and future Renault driver Esteban Ocon, has taken it in stride. The Frenchman is of the opinion that the knowledge and experience he gained while away, turned him into a “better package”.
At the end of the 2018 season, the 23-year old was dismissed from Force India and replaced by Lance Stroll. Initially, a move to Renault was on the cards, but it fell through, with Daniel Ricciardo going there instead. As a result, he was stuck in the role of Mercedes reserve driver.
The good news was that his patience would soon be rewarded when Renault announced that he signed a multi-year deal with them. Ocon will be partnering Daniel Ricciardo, at the expense of Nico Hulkenberg, who was left high and dry.
Speaking to Autosport, he spoke about his experience as a reserve driver for Mercedes. He said: “A lot of things. I didn’t drive as much as I would have liked to. Back in those days you could test the cars and drive millions of kilometres before getting back in it.
“I’ve done that in the simulator. I did test all the parts that the team put on the weekend. So I am aware of all the latest news of the current generation of cars. I think that’s a positive thing.”
“On the other side not being driving I could also learn the other part of the world of F1, which is more experience, more knowledge for me and more things learned for the future.”
“Seeing what the team expect from a driver, some things you cannot think about when you are racing. Because you don’t hear the people speaking internally and all that.”
He continued, “As Toto [Wolff] always says, the more things you see and the more knowledge you have for the future, the more experience that makes in the end. And that makes you a better athlete, also a better driver in the end, a better package.”
He revealed that spending time outside the cockpit only served to renew his hunger ahead of the 2020 campaign. Esteban Ocon confessed that 2019 was quite ‘tough’ for him mentally and emotionally. However he reassured himself, saying that such an experience would only make him stronger.