The Esteban Ocon Column: on a strange weekend in Australia, training in isolation and racing remote-control cars


Bonjour tout le monde. Hi guys, I’m very excited to jot down my first column for Formula1.com and present an perception into my life as a racing driver, each on and off the observe, and a behind the scenes peek at some stuff you don’t normally get to see. I hope you take pleasure in it!

An intense begin to the season…

Well, it’s been fairly an eventful few weeks again in a full-time race seat, regardless that the important thing a part of my job has been lacking – racing. It’s a pity that we missed out on leaping in the automotive in Australia, however well being and security is an important factor.

I really feel sorry for the crew for all their efforts in making ready for the race, I really feel for the organisers who’ve put in a lot to make sure there’s such a nice occasion and, in fact, I really feel so sorry for the followers who got here out to assist.

READ MORE: Why ‘stronger’ Ocon is relishing racing return in 2020

So far, 2020 has been very intense, however in an thrilling and very rewarding method. My preparation for the season began a whereas in the past once I was lucky to be handed the chance to drive the Renault R.S.19 in December in Abu Dhabi and that simply reignited my enthusiasm for driving once more. I can’t emphasise how cool it was to be again in the storage with the engine roaring, 30-plus crew across the automotive and me sliding my helmet on, pulling my gloves again and strolling in direction of the cockpit. What a feeling.

It didn’t cease there, I went to Enstone for extra preparation for becoming a member of the crew and then one other training camp earlier than Christmas to finish 2019. I then loved a while at dwelling with household and buddies in Normandy over the Christmas interval; primarily with my mum’s facet of the household on Christmas Eve and my dad’s facet on Christmas Day. I used to be again into training at 321 Perform in the Pyrenees on January 2. That’s the earliest I’ve ever begun pre-season preparation.

Here I’m training on my very own, throughout this era of self isolation

I felt I needed a robust base from a bodily side and clear up all of the little particulars from my expertise in earlier years to be stronger. As an athlete you don’t wish to depart something on the desk, it’s good to do every part you may to make sure you are prepared for the problem. I’ve by no means felt higher nor extra comfy going into a racing season, it’s been top-of-the-line training durations I’ve finished.

ANALYSIS: Why Renault have emerged as 2020’s darkish horse

After the season-opener occasion in Paris, we quickly headed to Barcelona for testing and the shakedown a couple of days earlier than. It was a particular feeling strolling into the Renault hospitality for the primary time and seeing your individual title on the door, your face on all of the boards figuring out every part has been custom-made for you.

I used to be lucky to be the primary driver between Daniel and I to drive the R.S.20, and what an honour it was. Prior to the check, I visited the Enstone manufacturing facility and went on a tour with my engineer Mark Slade to satisfy all of the totally different departments. It’s so motivating to see the onerous work which fits in day and night time with all of the fantastic particulars to make sure a race automotive goes round a observe for a weekend – and I’m that man who will get to drive it. So, when the time got here to step into the R.S.20 for the primary time it was a nice feeling.

I did handle a little bit of on-track motion in Albert Park – however not what I hoped for

Why I wore a masks in Australia

Leaving Barcelona, all of us felt comparatively assured the automotive had a good base. Testing was all about studying the automotive, seeing the way it behaved and clear up the little points. We did that over the times, we improved the automotive and found a lot on what was good and not so good. It was a studying curve and definitely a optimistic one.

Of course, Australia for spherical one is once you see what everybody has to supply, together with yourselves, however quietly, I believed we may have finished properly there. We arrived there feeling assured and the engineers with expertise had a good feeling with how we had been going to carry out. I suppose, we’ll have to attend and see now!

READ MORE: Self-isolation the ‘perfect training camp’, says Ricciardo

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I made a decision to put on a masks in Australia – I needed to take each measure attainable to not miss out

In all honesty, I discovered Australia fairly strange. I made a decision to put on a masks once I arrived and left the observe on Thursday. It was properly over 450 days since I final arrived at a race weekend in preparation for a race and I needed to take each measure attainable to not miss out, it’s been too lengthy. I’ve skilled this entire time and I needed to be as robust as attainable.

So I believed it will be finest to be cautious with what’s taking place and be smart for others. Of course, it’s out of all our palms with what’s going on, however I needed to ensure I used to be doing all I may to be prepared. I didn’t need something stopping me from racing once more. I did, nevertheless, do a couple of laps of the circuit in a Renault, simply not my Number 31 Formula 1 automotive! Driving the Megane Trophy R was the most effective a part of the week! You can watch me in the video above. I had a lot of enjoyable. I’ve one at dwelling, so I understand how cool it’s to drive and on observe it’s one other beast, in order that was good.

I have been enjoying a lot of video video games with buddies to maintain me entertained whereas at dwelling

How I have been maintaining busy

It was fairly a shock to obtain the information once I awoke on Friday to be leaving the race. I went to sleep fairly early on the Thursday night time. When I awoke, I used to be about to go in the bathe and I noticed tonnes of messages from Cyril and many different folks saying somebody from McLaren had examined optimistic and the race was compromised. It was a large shock. I used to be half asleep, half-awake, so it was tough to completely perceive the state of affairs.

DO SAY, DON’T SAY: Your quickfire lowdown on Renault for 2020

We did a lot of preparation, we had every part set to be arriving on the observe on Friday with conferences, leaping in the swimsuit and preparing for FP1. I used to be a bit disconnected with what was going on as I used to be simply focusing on preparing for the race weekend. It was positively a shock however, in the top, the well being of everyone seems to be an important factor.

I left Australia to be with my household and buddies in Normandy, France. In these moments it’s necessary to remain near your loved ones. All collectively we’re stronger. We are in quarantine in France and we’re staying at dwelling. It’s a strange ambiance; the streets are empty, there isn’t any sound in the morning. You can hear the birds and nature greater than anything. It’s a level the place you’re feeling the world altering. Hopefully after some weeks doing that, we will take pleasure in much more the style of being free.

I’ve additionally been messing about with distant management cars, which is a actual ardour of mine

I’m doing a lot of simulator racing on Gran Turismo with some fast guys and some buddies as properly. I’ve been doing three hours a day earlier than training to maintain myself busy! I’m simply in the home and utilizing the world close by for working. If anybody needs a race, I usually put up on my Instagram some info on how and when you are able to do that. I’m additionally enjoying with some remote-control cars, which is my second ardour.

Anything with an engine and gasoline and I’m down! I’ve been spending a while doing that, placing new tyres on and going flat out! That’s all the time good. The model of the cars I take advantage of are Kyosho, they’re the most effective. It’s a lot of enjoyable creating your individual programs with some cones and pushing these machines. I don’t actually like fixing them, however it’s good to do it to ensure there aren’t any issues once you run. It’s a bit like a racing automotive, every time you run it wants upkeep and that’s the one method you don’t have issues.

QUIZ: Who’s lacking from these basic F1 scenes?

I’m attempting to remain optimistic and on the brink of be in form when every part is okay. I’m training like there’s a race tomorrow and that’s the most effective mindset to maintain you going.

Merci for studying my debut column and I hope you guys loved it. Stay secure, keep wholesome and hopefully my subsequent column will characteristic some ideas from racing on-track!

Esteban

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