F1 Experiences Features

In Conversation with Esteban Ocon at the 2018 Belgian GP

Last weekend, we were joined by Racing Point Force India’s Esteban Ocon for our Friday night Paddock Club™ Party at Spa-Francorchamps. The French driver, who won plenty of new fans with his down to earth attitude in our Q&A, produced a stunning performance behind the wheel on Saturday to qualify third and finished the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix with eight points for sixth place.

F1 Experience Belgium 2018 Friday 086

New name, new team. What’s the feeling like inside Racing Point Force India?

We are always ready to go. This team has been pushing as hard as possible. We have got through this difficult situation, so everyone is smiling and happy. We start again from zero in the constructors’ championship. We’ve worked hard for those points, but that’s how it is. We will try to get as many as we can until the end of the season. Hopefully we can still beat some teams.

You made your Formula 1® debut at this track two years ago.

I feel old already, it’s crazy! [Ocon is 21 years old] I have so many good memories already from Formula 1® and I hope there’s going to be many more.

Who inspired you to get into Formula 1®?

Many kids dream of being an astronaut or a footballer. For me, it was always to be a Formula 1® driver. The rivalry between Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher gave me a love for the sport. I used to watch them every Sunday with my dad. I had a little Schumacher car that I would drive around in front of the TV. That’s how it started for me.

Your parents sold their house and you lived in a caravan for several years as you climbed the ladder to Formula 1®, correct?

I don’t like to speak about this too much, it was a tough time. My parents believed in me and made a lot of sacrifices. They believed I could fulfil my dreams. It was hard. I didn’t take the easy path to Formula 1®. There was a lot of work, and risk as well, but it paid off in the end. I can only thank my parents for believing in me and helping me fulfil my dreams.

Talk us through your average race weekend.

It’s much more than you see, for sure. I arrive at the factory in England on Monday evening, ready for the simulator day on Tuesday. You travel to the track on Wednesday. Thursday is the media and prep day. Today is the practice day, which is more focused on the performance and driving, with a bit of media as well. Then qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday. Sunday is my favourite day, definitely. The racing is what I am here for.

You need to be in peak physical condition to drive an F1® car. You can’t eat junk food, right?

I can’t, for a few reasons. Not for weight. I’m naturally slim. It’s for performance. You are stronger and perform better if you eat healthy food. I tend to lose quite a lot of weight during the season. Actually, I put on 3kg during the summer break. After finishing the first half of the season, I was only 3% fat, which is too low.

If you could have any driver as your teammate, who would it be and why?

For sure Michael Schumacher, he was always my idol. I still have a similar helmet design, even if today it is pink. One day I will go back to red. The other one would be Ayrton Senna. I think I could have learned a massive amount from these two drivers.

How important is your teammate?

It’s important to beat your teammate, that’s first. But it’s also important to have a strong teammate who can score points for the team and help improve the car. When we are both on the same page, we move forward as a team.

Where will you be driving next year?

At the moment, I don’t know. I’m here and I’m racing with Racing Point Force India at Spa, but I don’t know what the future is going to bring. Nothing is signed yet, so we will see.

Esteban Ocon will be joining F1® Experiences for our Paddock Club Party at the upcoming 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on November 22-25. Secure your Hero or Trophy Ticket Package for access!

MEET ESTEBAN OCON AT YAS MARINA

Topics: Belgian Grand Prix, Esteban Ocon

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