28/01/2020

New signing Ocon gets first taste of Renault F1 power

Esteban Ocon had his first test drive with the Renault Formula One Team before Christmas after signing to join the squad alongside Daniel Ricciardo for the 2020 season.
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Frenchman Ocon took part in F1’s official test at the Abu Dhabi circuit straight after the concluding grand prix of 2019 there in early December.

In 2020, Ocon will replace Nico Hülkenberg who had been with Renault since the start of 2017.

During the Abu Dhabi test, Ocon completed a staggering 205 laps in two days – the equivalent almost of four grand prix distances around the 5.554km track.

Much of the test was spent evaluating 2020’s tyres and running comparisons with those used in 2019.

However the test was seen as crucial in giving Ocon an early taste of his new environment – and Renault’s F1 car – before teams reconvene in mid-February for the first test of 2020, ahead of the new season which starts in Melbourne, Australia on 15 March.

Speaking after the tes, Ocon said: “It’s been a busy two days in Abu Dhabi with a great outcome to write 2019 off with a nice ending.

“Day 2 especially was very productive; it was probably worth two days of testing. We worked through a lot of things, which was very useful. I was getting used to everything again and growing more comfortable on each run.

“There were some important details cleared on my side and we also identified some areas we need to work on over the winter. I would like to thank Renault for this opportunity, I wish all the team a great winter after a busy season and I look forward to seeing them again soon.”

Alan Permane, Sporting Director added: “This test has been very good with Esteban in the team. We drove 205 laps, with the car and Esteban running faultlessly.

“You wouldn’t know he hadn’t been driving regularly, given his excellent fitness and ability to keep consistent. His feedback was good and we had no issues at all.

“It means we are well prepared for our winter campaign and we can go into 2020 ready to hit the ground running.”

Ocon, aged 22-year-old from Normandy, was a revelation with the Racing Point (nee Force India) team during 2017’s and 2018’s F1 seasons. He was also the Mercedes F1 team’s reserve driver in 2019 having been forced out of a race seat for that season.

However he has a previous racing history with Renault Sport having been its F1 team’s reserve driver in 2016 when he first raced in the sport with the small Manor outfit.

Earlier in his career he won numerous races in Formula Renault and then went on to capture both the 2014 FIA European Formula 3 and 2015 GP3 titles.

Meanwhile Renault is expected to confirm shortly when it will unveil its new 2020 F1 race car.