Esteban Ocon, Force India, 2017

Ocon on Rosberg, Manor and steak a cheval

2017 F1 season

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Esteban Ocon has been handed a breakthrough F1 chance with a full season seat at Force India for 2017.

Big things are expected of the former GP3 and Formula Three champion who is part of Mercedes’ young driver programme.

At the launch of Force India’s new car for 2017 Ocon discussed Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement, the sad demise of his former team Manor, and the gruelling lengths he’s gone to prepare for the increased physical challenge of the new cars.

Esteban Ocon on…

…the VJM10

Force India VJM10
Force India VJM10: “A proper man’s car”
Force India is aiming to improve on its best-ever result of fourth in the world championship with its new car for 2017.

“I’m very excited. Looking at the car you can only be excited. It looks properly aggressive, it looks like a proper man’s car. I can’t wait to see how it performs at Barcelona.”

“It will be much different. Driving style will be different, much more grip so you can push more in the corner. The power will be less effective out of the corner because we’ll have no more grip so less wheelspin, so you can attack the corner differently.”

“But more than that I think the physically point of view will be much harder than the previous years. It was hard already the last years but I think it will be twice as hard this year.”

…Nico Rosberg’s retirement

The paddock was stunned by Nico Rosberg’s decision to retire after winning the world championship last year.

“I think the paddock will miss him. He was a great driver, a great person especially. He’s been speaking to me and giving me advice as well. So it’s sad that he retired but I understand his choice and I think we have to respect it.”

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…Manor failing to make the grid for 2017

Esteban Ocon, Manor, Interlagos, 2016
Ocon was tenth with two laps to go in Brazil
Ocon made his Formula One debut with Manor last year. He almost added to the team’s points tally at the Brazilian Grand Prix after a hair-raising near-miss with Kimi Raikkonen.

However that race saw Sauber move ahead of the in the points standings, which finished off the team’s chances of staying on the grid in 2017.

“It’s very sad. I was very sad to hear that. They’ve been giving me my chance, there is great people there. And they were pushiung very hard to get good results.”

“I was very sad after Brazil, I was pushing more than what I could do, I took a lot of risks, missed the pointsin the end. So very sad for them to not be on the grid because they really deserved it. And I hope the people that work there will find a job in Formula One somewhere.”

…his new team mate

Sergio Perez, Esteban Ocon, Force India, 2017
New team mate Perez has years of experience
Pascal Wehrlein hardly had any more grand prix experience than Ocon at Manor. He expects to learn a lot from new team mate Sergio Perez.

“He’s a very experienced driver. What he did with this team was really nice, he pulled up the team so much and he has achieved great things with this team.”

“I will have a lot to learn from him, especially in the first test. It will be very important to me to see what he does, see how he communicates with the team and wants to make progress with the car. So it’s going to be nice and interesting for me.”

“My personal target is to arrive at the first test and be straight away on the pace.”

…racing in Monaco this year

With car widths back up to two metres, will overtaking be completely non-existent at Ocon’s ‘home’ race?

“It was very hard to overtake already before. A car this much wider is going to be even harder.”

“On normal tracks it’s going to be that there’s more drag. So when you open the DRS you get more straight-line speed compared to the guy in front.

“I didn’t understand why the Baku F1 race was not interesting after the GP2. But I think it was luck. I think this year is going to be a lot more interesting to see.”

…training for the demanding new cars

Sergio Perez, Esteban Ocon, Force India, 2017
Ocon endured an extreme winter fitness programme
The results of Ocon’s brutal off-season training regime were clear to see at Force India’s launch. The 20-year-old has clearly spent a lot of time building up his muscles, particularly in his neck.

“I did two months of training in the Pyrenees, high altitude. I’ve been pushing very hard every day and I’ve been adding on five kilos.”

“We did reaction, co-ordination, mental work, speed vision work and also nine hours of cardio per week and ten hours of gym per week. So that was very hard. I can’t be more ready for the season.”

“We had to run [through snow] and we had targets for the heart rate. My target was between 170 and 185 [beats per minutes] for like 15 minutes. That was really hard.”

“So it’s been very hard training regime, not also the training but the eating part of it was very hard. I had to eat so much food. I had to eat what we call steak a cheval, it’s steak with eggs on top. I had to eat four of them, 450 grams, and then I had to do the same with chicken in the evening.”

“If I struggle – I will struggle for sure, it’s going to be hard – but if I can’t drive the car then I don’t know what I can do more.”

2017 F1 season

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Author information

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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  • 11 comments on “Ocon on Rosberg, Manor and steak a cheval”

    1. good guy

    2. Re “So very sad for them to not be on the grid because they really deserved it. ”
      Unfortunately F1 isn’t about “deserved”, it is about financial backing, which is encouraged by results. I was very disappointed to hear that Manor Racing weren’t going to be on the grid, but I also understood this is how it has always been in F1 (if not all motorsport): If you don’t get results you will find it difficult to get the money necessary to compete, meaning you could easily be culled from that racing series.
      This doesn’t mean I condone what happened to Manor Racing, I think the bigger picture is the Pay Wall has done more damage than good, at least as far as the teams are concerned anyway.

      1. At least Manor will be remembered as a professional team, they didn’t disgrace themselves at all (at least on the racetrack), which should hopefully help those with ‘Manor GP’ on their CV.

        Financially they were doomed from the moment the budget cap was dropped, plus they lost their early backers and got involved with a very sketchy Russian “”car manufacturer””, honestly I’m surprised they survived that period.

        The most worrying for me isn’t the payment system in F1, it’s that no respectable organisation was willing to invest in F1. It doesn’t bode well for the future of the grid when a solid, borderline competitive team like this can’t attract any buyers, especially when teams like McLaren can’t find a title sponsor after all these years, it’s like F1 no longer has any marketing value.

      2. @drycrust You completely disregard the unjust distribution of profits in F1. Nowhere else do you have such an unjust system not any other sport. It’s the most significant threat to the very existence of F1. So, yes, Manor F1 deserved 100% to be on the grid, no ifs and buts about it, they weren’t an early 90’s type no-hopers. They were a very professional team who worked very hard and got the results. The fact that they’re not on the grid, has zero to do with them and everything to do with the wrong system of F1

        1. +1 COTD (or Reply of the day) here.

        2. @montreal95 I agree there was a lot of bias against Manor: they got the least amount of any TV rights payment for the 2015 season and they got pathetic TV coverage during races (I can’t say it was the worst TV coverage during races because as far as I could tell it wasn’t significantly worse than what Force India, Haas, Sauber, STR, Williams, Renault or McLaren got), making it extremely difficult to justify charging for corporate sponsorship. I don’t know if you can say the financial income gap between them and a Red Bull Racing or Ferrari is the worst in any sport, I suspect there are far worse examples around. For example there will have been athletes at the last Olympic games who got their on their own finances or donations from individuals or third world countries competing in events against athletes who were backed by first world governments, rich universities, or multi-national manufacturers.
          However, there is another side to the failure of Manor Racing, and this is the most important part, which is they didn’t have the income necessary to compete in F1. The team ran up too many debts and weren’t able to pay their debtors. I’m not excusing the expense of competing in F1, I’m not excusing the poor TV coverage or the pathetic TV rights payout system, but I am justifying the winding up of Manor Racing simply because if they weren’t wound up then they’d have eventually dragged down other teams (including teams competing in other racing series’), suppliers, manufacturers, etc.
          Like it or not, Manor Racing Ltd had to go because it was them or Delta Topco Ltd.

    3. Why does he need to gain weight? I thought F1 teams wanted smaller and lighter drivers.

      1. Muscles are heavy bro. A light fellow will not be able to deal with the forces.

      2. Muscles, not just kilo’s, to cope with the higher G-forces because of the much higher cornering speeds (because of the much higher levels of downforce)

    4. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      26th February 2017, 11:23

      Seems a really nice guy, I hope he does well. That’s an interesting read but at 6’1″ he’s always gonna be at too much of a disadvantage to a jockey team mate. Hopefully these new cars mitigate that a little.

    Comments are closed.