Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport reserve driver Esteban Ocon says he's ready to return to F1 after his behind the scenes role with the team this season. So what has he been doing?
Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport had a dominant start to the season, but the run up to the summer break was not without its challenges.
As Formula 1 prepares to return after the summer break, fans are keen to see how far that challenge will develop as Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and the Silver Arrows seek a record-equalling sixth consecutive Constructors' Championship title.
But there's a support in the Mercedes garage working tirelessly behind the scenes at each Grand Prix and on-site at the team's Brackley HQ. We're talking, of course, about Esteban Ocon.
Last year's silly season was not kind to Ocon, who lost out in the round of Formula 1's musical chairs. But, true to his determined form, Ocon landed himself the reserve driver seat at Mercedes and has been working, quietly and surely, towards a return to the grid ever since.
Training plays a big part in any driver's journey, and Ocon's regime keeps him in peak condition, ready to step in at a moment's notice should the need arise. "As a driver, it's good to be a complete athlete. I think it's good to have abilities in a lot of different sports, each can bring you something when you're out on track. I work very hard, and music really helps. In some sports, it's forbidden because they say that 'music is doping', and I kind of agree with that. Music gives you a boost, more motivation, when you're in pain you can listen to a good track, and it will bring you forward. The Soundsport Free headphones are perfect, because there is no cable, so when you go running or cycling, anything really, I always have them in my pocket and I always have them ready."
But being first reserve for the grid's top team is a mental as well as physical challenge.
"Being part of that team and having so much success is fantastic, I feel proud of what we have achieved so far," Esteban told our own Stuart Codling, when the pair met earlier this summer, just before the British Grand Prix. "When you are a reserve driver, of course you always want to run more and more. I drive a lot, and I will be testing the car later this year. It's very demanding. I run in the sim overnight and then go to the race with no sleep, all the time working with the engineers - it's not easy! But, you know, that's what I have to do to come back. I always work hard, and that pays off."
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