Esteban Ocon, F3, Imola, 2014

Ocon “exceptional” in test debut – Lotus

2014 F1 season

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Esteban Ocon, F3, Imola, 2014European Formula Three champion Esteban Ocon’s first test in a Formula One car was described as “exceptional” by Lotus.

The team’s trackside operations director Alan Permane lavished praise on the 18-year-old French driver following his two-day test for them at Valencia which concluded today.

“Esteban drove exceptionally well over the course of the last two days, completing every task we asked of him,” said Permane.

“It’s clear he has a lot of talent as he was quickly up to speed and looked comfortable in the car. His feedback and aptitude were very promising. I’m sure we will see him in an F1 car again before too long.”

Ocon, who joined Lotus’s junior team at the beginning of last season, said the test went “really well”. He drove a Lotus E20 chassis of the type used by the team in 2012.

“I had to adapt to the car quite rapidly which I did very well. I felt comfortable with the team straight away and the same with the E20.

“The word I’d use to describe the feeling of driving an F1 car is that it is just quicker. The car was easy to drive, stable and very enjoyable; it is a great car. I’m really happy with this two-day test and I hope to the get the opportunity to jump into the F1 car again soon.”

Sauber also ran at Valencia, testing Roy Nissany and Adderley Fong.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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22 comments on “Ocon “exceptional” in test debut – Lotus”

  1. Of course Alan Permane would say that, so I’ll take it with a pinch of salt. But it has to be said, he has been very impressive in this year’s European F3 Championship, especially the first half. I hope he will secure a good seat in Formula Renault 3.5 next year and have another epic Ocon vs. the Netherlands fight!

    1. @andae23 Who would he be up against? Beitske Visser? It would be good if it was Max Verstappen again though :)

      1. Personally, I think he has to beat Gasly to be the ‘next big thing’, so far Gasly beat him in both Eurocup years they had together (2012, 2013).

        1. @fastiesty Yes, but Gasly had a season of French F4 before jumping to Eurocup. Ocon went straight to Eurocup from karting.

          1. @wsrgo True, in that respect, he’d do well to match Gasly/Rowland in the title battle. Same for de Vries? Perhaps they’ll be battling with Sirotkin.

        1. @hunocsi Of course.. Silly me.

    2. @andae23 The situation with the new Total management paired with Lotus not running French engines and the standby of the french gp and the Vergne situation all things may end the resurgence of French drivers on the F1 grid even if there are a good number of upcoming drivers, also one thing that Ocon has, is spanish heritage and that could hurt him if he drives with the French flag, which is basically the only option as spanish have the brand name of Sainz

      1. @peartree He looks a lot like Sergio Perez, so that doesn’t surprise me at all. But Gasly and Ocon are definitely good replacements for Vergne and Pic, if they fall out of F1.

        Alonso’s wishes are coming true: Perez, Merhi, Juncadella, Sainz, Ocon.. a Spanish legacy is mounting in F1.

        1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
          24th October 2014, 9:29

          @fastiesty – I agree, Gutiérrez does indeed fail to warrant inclusion.

          1. @william-brierty Heh, says it all really. I wonder if he suffered from a lack of running, with Sauber not having a simulator, as now, on occasion, he can outqualify Sutil.

          2. @fastiesty – Not having a simulator didn’t hurt Perez whilst he was there…or Hulkenberg…or Kobayashi. There is a world of difference between having potential and being able to sporadically outqualify a driver with none.

          3. @william-brierty True, but all of those guys also had affiliations with other teams – Hulk Williams & Force India first, Checo Ferrari (probably for this purpose), Kobayashi Toyota. Esteban was always just with Sauber, getting occasional YDTs.

      2. @peartree – New Total management, a poor season from Renault, dwindling French interest, the former Renault factory team (and called Lotus-Renault as recently as 2011) switching to Brixworth power and the likely case of just one French driver on the grid in 2015 is indeed a stark contrast to twelve months ago with Renault engines winning 14/19 races in 2013 and with French talent in Bianchi and Grosjean looking set for long and successful careers.

        However as recently as 2010 their were no French drivers in F1 and in 2008 the Renault engine was handicapping Red Bull versus their Ferrari powered junior team, so national success is simply commercial, sporting and technical ebb and flow; there are for instance no young German stars in the junior categories currently despite a German WCC in 2014 and a German WDC for the past four years. Between Grosjean, Ocon, Gasly and Renault I think French interest is pretty safe.

        Italy is perhaps the case to worry about since Ferrari’s might is waning, and despite not being short of success in the junior categories, there has not been a hot-shot junior Italian driver on the grid since Liuzzi made his debut in 2005: that is appalling and perhaps suggesting Italians are struggling to find F1 worthy budgets in these times of “pay drivers”.

    3. If Ocon secures a seat in FR3.5, the season could be a very entertaining one. Ocon vs De Vries vs Gasly, throw in Merhi and Rowland (if they’re going to compete?), and we will see good stuff I’m sure.

      I think at this point I’m expecting the most from Gasly. He had no wins this year but deserved at least one. He was very consistent and collected the most podiums of anyone. I think he’ll be the one to beat. He should just try to improve his overtaking abilities a bit – although the car in itself isn’t great for overtaking, others have been a bit better at it.

    4. @andae23 As you say there is a hint of PR here – Ocon said “The car was easy to drive, stable and very enjoyable” – I guess Grosjohn & Maldanado have been driving a different car then.

      1. Whoops Grosjean

        1. Further whoops – Ignore my post completely too early – I’m on hols- he drove an E20 so it was a completely different car!!

  2. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    24th October 2014, 9:06

    Is F3 starting to produce more reliably excellent young talents than either GP2 or even GP3? In recent years the champions have invariably promptly been aligned with an F1 team and some of the series’ recent finds, Ocon, Verstappen, Marciello, Juncadella, Kvyat and Merhi, can either listed as “on the F1 grid next year”, “has a chance of being on the F1 grid next year” or “could be in F1 in the future”. Albeit it is a swings and roundabouts situation with British F3 on a downward curve, it really is nice to see F3, or any form, strong once again and producing drivers with genuine F1 prospects.

    1. @william-brierty Well, F3 is a class a lot of them go through, but most of the time they still get a drive in GP3 as well(Bottas, Kvyat), and/or a drive in FR3.5 (numerous RBR talents) after that.

      Of the “haven’t reached F1 yet”-list you mentioned: Ocon will probably be in FR3.5 next year. Marciello is now in GP2. Juncadella, won’t make it to F1 I’m afraid. Merhi, I think he won’t make it either but he did pass on to FR3.5.

      F3 has pretty much always been one of the corner stones in feeder series, so I expect that to continue. But I don’t sense much has changed lately? Except of course for the direct promotion of Verstappen. But I don’t think that is because F3 is such a reliable gauge for F1 succes, more that RBR were forced to play it this way if they wanted to sign Verstappen.

      1. @mattds – I would argue that the FR2.0, FR3.5 pathway is now as popular, albeit many do dovetail GP3/FR2.0 campaigns with FIA F3 appearances as you say.

        Would you like me to break down the categories and reasoning I put behind each of the drivers I mentioned? Of course you do…

        On the F1 grid next year – Verstappen and Kvyat – they have contracts.

        Has a chance of being on the F1 grid next year – Merhi and Ocon – Despite leaving their DTM programme, Merhi is still very much a Mercedes backed driver and certainly impressed with his 2014 FR3.5 performances for a quite unfancied team, and reports suggested that in the increasingly unlikely chance of Caterham being on the grid in 2015, Mercedes would subsidize his campaign in place of KK. Regarding Ocon, AUTOSPORT report (where is my “link” button?) that the FIA are pushing Esteban’s Gravity management group to manufacturer a Verstappen-esque rise to F1 as Berger says he’s “as good”. Difficult to see where he would slot in, but the FIA can be persuasive.

        Could be in F1 in the future – Juncadella, Marciello, Merhi and Ocon – As you say the ship has likely sailed for the talented Juncadella, but his name is likely to be on a list alongside Wehrlein (another exciting F3 talent), Vandoorne and Merhi for Massa’s seat at Williams next year or if Force India give Perez the elbow. Marciello has a real chance at Sauber if he impresses in GP2 next year. If Merhi and Ocon end up in FR3.5 rather than an F1 car I still there are F1 chances for both of them, Ocon especially.

        The progression with regards to F3 I refer is the expansion of the FIA’s F3 International Trophy to include the successful F3 Euro Series on popular European tracks, with FIA commercial clout and invariably in support of major series such as the DTM or World Endurance Championship. I think Berger’s handy work, including the MOTORS TV television rights for the UK making it a good sponsor platform, has massively strengthened F3 and amalgamation of international-grade F3 was badly needed, so whilst it is true that F3 has always produced great talent, but one could argue that these improvements will heighten chances of F1 promotion.

  3. The look on Ocon’s face (pic above) is the same look that I have when someone asks me for my last Rolo.

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