Max Verstappen a reference point for F1 newcomer Esteban Ocon

Formula 1 debutant Esteban Ocon says erstwhile Formula 3 rival Max Verstappen is his reference point for his grand prix career, which starts with Manor at Spa this weekend

Max Verstappen a reference point for F1 newcomer Esteban Ocon

Ocon won the 2014 European F3 Championship in which Verstappen finished third as a car racing rookie, with the pair having some tough battles along the way.

Verstappen then went straight into F1 with Toro Rosso before moving to Red Bull and becoming a grand prix winner this year, while Ocon won the 2015 GP3 title and began 2016 as a Mercedes DTM driver and Renault F1 reserve before being placed at Manor as Rio Haryanto's replacement from this weekend.

Asked if he saw Verstappen as a reference point in F1, Ocon replied: "He is, definitely, because I was racing with him.

"At the end I won the title but he was a tough guy to beat and we had some great fights.

"He went through and he did really well in F1, so he's a reference and I hope to do even better than him.

"I hope to have some more fights with him in the future. That's what I'm working for."

Ocon said that Verstappen was "not the toughest" rival of his career so far, instead giving that honour to Daniil Kvyat - but with the caveat that he was a car racing rookie when he was taking on the Russian as a Koiranen team-mate in Formula Renault in 2012.

"[Kvyat] was my team-mate in my first year of single-seaters so I don't think it was very comparable," Ocon said. "But he was very impressive."

Ocon is now paired with fellow Mercedes protege Pascal Wehrlein at Manor.

Asked by Autosport if he regarded this as a head-to-head to earn bigger opportunities with Mercedes, Ocon replied: "I don't have extra pressure with that.

"I'm happy to be here already and I will make the most of what I can do.

"Pascal will be a great reference. But I'm not thinking there's a great rivalry.

"He's a great driver and he will be quick but I need to work on myself and to do a normal job like I did in previous categories.

"I need to learn as much as I can from what Pascal is doing.

"I'm coming here with the approach of learning the car. I need to align my driving style compared to him."

shares
comments
Sauber Formula 1 team brings raft of upgrades to Belgian Grand Prix

Previous article

Sauber Formula 1 team brings raft of upgrades to Belgian Grand Prix

Next article

Lewis Hamilton says he will take engine penalty at Belgian GP

Lewis Hamilton says he will take engine penalty at Belgian GP
Load comments
How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum Plus

How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum

With two sprint races under its belt, Formula 1 must now consider its options for them going forward. While they've helped deliver exciting racing on Sundays, the sprints themselves have been somewhat lacking - creating yet another conundrum for F1 to solve...

Who should Alfa Romeo sign for 2022's F1 season? Plus

Who should Alfa Romeo sign for 2022's F1 season?

OPINION: With Valtteri Bottas already signed up for 2022, all eyes are on the race for the second seat at Alfa Romeo next year. Antonio Giovinazzi is the current incumbent, but faces a tough competition from appealing short and long-term prospects

Formula 1
Sep 15, 2021
The "forced break" that was key to Ricciardo's Monza excellence Plus

The "forced break" that was key to Ricciardo's Monza excellence

OPINION: Daniel Ricciardo has long been considered one of Formula 1’s elite drivers. But his struggles at McLaren since switching from Renault for 2021 have been painful to watch at times. Yet he’s recovered to banish those memories with a famous Monza win – built on a critically important foundation

Formula 1
Sep 14, 2021
How Verstappen is ruining his F1 title battle with Hamilton Plus

How Verstappen is ruining his F1 title battle with Hamilton

OPINION: The Italian GP clash between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen followed a running theme in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight. Their close-quarters battles have often resulted in contact - and although Hamilton has shown a willingness to back off, Verstappen must learn to temper his aggression

Formula 1
Sep 14, 2021
Italian Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Italian Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Two drivers produced maximum-score performances as, for the second year in a row, Monza threw up an unpredictable result that left several others ruing what might have been

Formula 1
Sep 13, 2021
Why Ricciardo was set for Monza F1 triumph even without Verstappen/Hamilton crash Plus

Why Ricciardo was set for Monza F1 triumph even without Verstappen/Hamilton crash

The clash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton was the major flashpoint the 2021 Italian Grand Prix will be remembered for. Yet by this point, race leader Daniel Ricciardo had already done the hard work that would put him in position to end his and McLaren's lengthy win droughts, on a memorable afternoon in Monza

Formula 1
Sep 13, 2021
Why Italian GP success is on for McLaren even if Verstappen dominates Plus

Why Italian GP success is on for McLaren even if Verstappen dominates

For the second time in 2021, McLaren will line up for the start of a grand prix from the first row. It knows it has the chance of “glory” if things go well for Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris at the start of the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, but even if they just maintain their grid positions, signs from the rest of the Monza weekend suggest success is very possible for Formula 1’s other orange army

Formula 1
Sep 12, 2021
The F1 media favourite who lifted a broken Lotus Plus

The F1 media favourite who lifted a broken Lotus

Graham Hill was nearly 30 when he made his Formula 1 debut. NIGEL ROEBUCK examines the life of a gifted racer whose talismanic personality defined an era

Formula 1
Sep 11, 2021