What if Ocon had not had his seat at Manor?

A career in Formula 1 does not always mean much. Esteban Ocon knows something.

What if Ocon had not had his seat at Manor?
Esteban Ocon
Esteban Ocon, ART Grand Prix
Esteban Ocon, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid Test Driver
Esteban Ocon, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid Test Driver
Esteban Ocon, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid Test Driver
Esteban Ocon, Manor Racing MRT05
Esteban Ocon, Manor Racing MRT05
Helmet of Esteban Ocon, Manor Racing
Esteban Ocon, Force India VJM10
Esteban Ocon, Force India VJM10

It was the opportunity to replace Rio Haryanto at Manor for the second half of the 2016 season that allowed the Mercedes protege to prove himself in Formula 1.

These first steps in the top echelon of motorsport led to him obtaining the prized seat at Force India for the 2017 season.

And now that he's with a midfield squad, he is flaunting his talent. But what would have happened if he had not got the seat at Manor in the first place?

“To be honest, I have never thought about it! Never!” Ocon told the official F1 site. “I probably would have finished the DTM season with the hope of entering F1 in 2017.

"But it probably would not have been with Force India. My guess is that it would have been tough to find a cockpit as Manor stopped at the end of 2016. Gee, I don’t even want to think about it!”

Mercedes added Ocon to its driver roster at the start of the title-winning GP3 campaign in 2015, saving his career.

The Frenchman has always faced financial difficulties, with his parents even having to sell their house to support his racing career.

“Without my racing success – that the pieces of the puzzle fell into the right places – I probably would now be working as a mechanic or have another simple job,” said the Frenchman.

“The McDonalds example [Ocon said he’d be flipping burgers if Toto Wolff hadn’t stepped in to help his career] was just a joke but it went viral worldwide’.

“But being a mechanic would have been the biggest likelihood. So yes, I am hungry. I know where I come from and I know of all the sacrifices my parents have put in to make my career possible. Probably this is a similarity to Lewis [Hamilton]!

“I only can say if I had not succeeded, it would have been terrible. I had big, big pressure from a very young age. I was not a normal kid! I didn’t have a kid life!” he said.

“You could probably say that I went straight from being a toddler to an adult life. Sure, that is a bit exaggerated – but when you are so young you feel that way. I understood the facts of life from very early on. It was a hard time – but now it is time for me to enjoy!”

Clearly, Ocon is taking advantage of it.  In his first full campaign in Formula 1, the Force India driver currently occupies eighth place in the championship - just behind experienced teammate Sergio Perez - with 45 points on the table.

In fact, in the last eight races, Ocon has outscored the Mexican, showing how well he is gelling with the squad.

“I have to work very hard,” he continued. “I have a lot less experience than Sergio. So I have to catch up on so many details that come naturally to him. Before and after each race, I am mostly in the factory for simulator work. I think that is what makes a big difference.

“You cannot plan success! We respect the targets that we set at the start of the season – which means scoring points at every race. And that is pretty much what I am doing!” he concluded.

 
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