Team mate battles 2020: The final score – Ricciardo vs Ocon

2020 F1 season review

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After spending a year on the sidelines and returning to drive a completely unfamiliar car, it was always going to take Esteban Ocon a few races to play himself back in. The Covid-induced extended gap before the season properly began couldn’t have helped.

As early as round two his comeback appeared to be going well. He judged a rain-hit qualifying session at the Red Bull Ring superbly to take fifth on the grid, three places ahead of team mate Daniel Ricciardo. Yet surprisingly, he didn’t out-qualify his team mate again until the final round.

Ricciardo may have decided to leave the team before the championship even got underway, but at no point did he look like anything other than the leading light in its driver line-up. On the occasions Ocon got ahead of him, such as last week’s season finale, he usually ended up back in front again.

What went wrong for Ocon? The experienced Ricciardo clearly found his way better with the rapidly-improving RS20. Ocon grew frustrated at times, notably after the races at the Hungaroring at Monza, where he made his displeasure clear on the radio.

He turned in some good performances, however, and often did not get the rub of the green. His four retirements in 17 races were caused by a variety of technical ailments. He made a terrific getaway at Istanbul Park only to be sent spinning at the first corner by, of all people, his team mate. Luck turned in his favour at the Sakhir Grand Prix, where he claimed the team’s best result of the season with second place.

Given his earlier frustrations, this was a fair reward for the clear progress Ocon made as the season went on. This was particularly notable in his one-lap pace, just has been the case in his two years at Force India alongside Sergio Perez (whom he comfortably out-qualified in his last full season).

But with Ricciardo moving on, Ocon will have to be at the top of his game from the start of the 2021 F1 season when he goes up against his formidable new team mate: Fernando Alonso.

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Positive gap: Esteban Ocon was ahead; Negative gap: Daniel Ricciardo was ahead

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Ricciardo and Ocon race-by-race summary

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Daniel RicciardoQ
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Esteban OconQ
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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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32 comments on “Team mate battles 2020: The final score – Ricciardo vs Ocon”

  1. Now that Esteban will have Fernando, the outcome will be the same.

    1. Probably worse.
      Alonso probably took enough precautions and asked for a first driver clause in his contract, as was his habit.

      1. And I think Fernando would be fierce with him.

      2. I don’t believe that Alonso fears Ocon enough to ask for that

        1. Well he can’t know if Ocon will always be his teammate in Renault (no matter the rebranding). The only guy who doesn’t have to worry about that is Stroll, since he practically owns the team he drives for.

      3. Didn’t see your comment, sorry. I had the Enemy Filter turned on, I need to turn it off.

  2. Ocon falls into the “just not” category similar to Bottas – only difference between them is that Bottas drives the best car so gets poles, wins, podiums and Ocon does not.

    The next in long line of potential bright futures being cut short and stuck in the midfield. No path for him to Mercedes, Ferrari nor Red Bull.

    1. Shows that somr people put too much emphasis on young drivers being the stars of the future, while many older drivers get better and better.

    2. Bottas and Hamilton was the pairing closest in qualifying of all teams. Bottas might not be as good come sunday, but he surely pushes a great driver like Hamilton, something Ocon didn’t do against a lower ranked Ricciardo. Bottas is in the best car because he is one of the best drivers – he isn’t Hamilton or Verstappen, but he is still a good driver. Ocon might still improve, but right now he looks like a midfielder and one that is bad at adjusting.

  3. The best thing Ocon did was to establish how much Daniel Ricciardo is on it. That said, he had a decent few races to finish of the year, with the podium at the second race in Bahrain being the obvious highlight. But outqualifying Ricciardo and then passing Stroll on that last lap of the season must have given him some of the confidence he’s going to need to not be washed away by Alonso next season.

  4. Shouldn’t be forgotten that Ocon had the measure of Perez back in 2018. Took him a bit of time to get upto speed but it just shows how much Daniel Ricciardo is on it.
    Going out on a limb here but I think it will be less one-sided next year against Fernando Alonso.

    1. He didn’t exactly have the measure of him. He had a decent run towards the end of the season but ultimately Perez still finished 8th vs 12th in the standings, took a 3rd and a 5th place race result. Ocon only had a best result of 6th (more than once) and kept crashing into perez and took out Verstappen when unlapping himself

      1. no, he did have a measure on him, despite Perez podium Ocon managed to match him on points by the first half of the season, by Singapur they were even, in the second half of the season, Ocon had more bad luck with DNFs and a DSQ in Austin when he was running for good points and for his bad luck Perez came with a good amount of points increasing the difference between them. Ocon had 5 DNFS and 1 DSQ while Perez had only 2 DNFS. Ocon was ahead in 9 races vs 5 from Perez and beat him in qualy 15 to 5, points don’t tell the whole story, he had a pretty good season and I would say he was better than Perez.

        1. Yep he definitely looked like he was the faster driver despite finishing behind Perez and being dropped by Force India.
          He cops allot of slack from fans because they Google previous results and see that he finished behind Perez and now Ricciardo.
          Personally I think Riccardo who always has been a top driver was in the best form of his career and for me was driver of the year.

    2. I think Perez proved he was faster but it was still close

  5. I think Ocon could give Alonso a headache. Danny looked good this year but last year was no better than the Hulk.

    1. DRirc out qualified Hulk at nearly every race

    2. Ricciardo was plain better than Hulkenberg, who even had the advantage of being with the team for multiple seasons. It was much closer than this years battle at Renault, but with an 11-4 score in terms of finishing higher when both finished and just three of those times were Hulkenberg a position away from Ricciardo.

  6. The fact that Dan made it all the way to the podium, twice, makes me disagree with that last statement.

  7. Ricciardo is a phenomenal driver. I rate him as the third best on the grid, higher than Leclerc because he makes fewer mistakes.

    1. Totally agree, I just wish he would get a go in the best car of a given season. Bottas is wasting that Merc seat. If we cant have a close race between teams (Merc dominating), then can we at least have a close race between the 2 drivers in the top team? Riccardo vs Hamilton would make for a very exciting season. Like the old Hamilton vs Rosberg days.
      Liberty if you are reading this, this is what EVERYONE wants to see, a real battle for the WDC.

    2. I rate him at Hamiltons level because of the consistency. Ham vs Ric would be epic

    3. He’s very good. Just ran into the best talent in a generation at RBR (in my opinion before some of you get upset).

      I put Ricciardo ahead of Hamilton.

      1. He’s very good. Just ran into the best talent in a generation at RBR

        People seem to forget that Ricciardo beat Verstappen in their time that they where team mates.

        If you take away mechanical failures there head-to-head was…
        Ricciardo: 590 points from 46 races at an average of 12.8 points per race
        Verstappen: 608 points from 50 races at an average of 12.2 points per race

        1. Verstappen went to RBR as an 18 year old against a guy that was in his 6th season and 3rd at RBR.

          He was virtually on Ricciardo’s pace from the start.

          Max’s raw pace advantage was clearly evident 2017 and 2018 he was really flexing his muscles. Ricciardo had no real answer.

          When Ricciardo won that pole in Mexico 2018 he celebrated like he won a championship. Such was the pressure Max was putting him under.

          I rate Ricciardo highly made Vettel look stupid, destroyed Hulkenberg, but Max is much better especially now (in my opinion).

  8. I think Ricciardo was absolutely on it this season.. some small errors but mega in qualifying and great race craft on Sundays.

    Ocon seemed to take a while to shake off the race rust. I only thought he started getting better during the last 5 to 6 races of the season. I’m pretty sure Ocon’s ego must have taken a beating during the mid season when he was getting annihilated by Ricciardo on every race weekend, after his confidence boost of having the measure of Perez in 2018.

    I think Ocon will be stronger next year and will give Alonso a tougher fight.. but to be honest.. I just don’t see Ocon developing in to a talent like Leclerc or Verstappen in his future.. he’s had 3 seasons and has shown himself to reach a Perez/Bottas/Hulkenberg/Sainz level of driver at best, but nothing better than that.

    1. Ocon was always a just above average driver even when he drove in F3. Yes he was champion but had only 2 wins in the best car of the field Perma with Mercedes. (to compare Max had 10 wins and became 3th due a lot of DNF in a midfield car) van Amersfoorts with VW.)

    2. Sainz is better than that level. He was the driver of the season last year

  9. Ricciardo had a great season. Ocon must be happy not have been measured against Hamilton in Mercedes as was rumoured when he was lurking behind Toto’s back in the pits.The stats would look even more devastating. Interesting to see the dynamics at Alpine next year.

  10. I think people are under estimating Ocon, he has been pitted against one of the best drivers on the grid and towards the end of the season he has shown that he has stepped up.
    Next year he faces a another great driver who will not take a backwards step in a car/team that is definitely improving, I think he’ll be fine.
    Ricciardo in a Merc powered McLaren, and with a bit of luck Vettel in a *competitive Merc powered AM will be chasing down Hamilton.
    Ferrari are going to be a bit a dark horse but with a driver like Leclerc they could be dangerous
    I’m looking forward to a very competitive year in 2021.

    * going to be interesting to see how RP go with designing their own car.
    I didn’t mention Verstappen/RB because to be honest there is a question mark over their improvements compared to other teams.

    1. Will be interesting to see how fast Alonso can be up to speed, and whether Ocon now having had a year of F1 behind him again at this team will show a different dynamic between those two than we saw in 2020 with Ricciardo @johnrkh

  11. Ricciardo showed again what he is worth. He has been consistently fast this year.
    But Ocon wasn’t the strongest of teammate opponents during the first half of the season. Who knows, maybe the Renault was much better in 2020 than 5th in the championship.

    Ocon was quite disappointing initially on 2020. But the very last on track action in F1 this year (overtake on Stroll) was solid enough to keep the belief that he is strong enough to be part of F1.

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