Date published: December 28 2018
Esteban Ocon has admitted that his improvement in qualifying in 2018 was important, as Mercedes wanted to see him making gains in that area.
The Frenchman, who is surprisingly without a drive for next year, defeated team-mate Sergio Perez 15-5 in qualifying this campaign.
However, after two years with Force India (now Racing Point F1), Ocon was unable to find a seat in the Mercedes stable, and is now their reserve driver.
“It is my target to win the championship, and we will see how the future evolves, but I guess Mercedes wanted to see that their driver could perform well in qualifying,” Ocon said.
“In any kind of racing it’s important to start ahead, when we have aero like this it’s very hard to pass.
“It’s a big help and I’m pretty happy with my improvement. I think qualifying I have improved the most, how to build up the weekend.
“That’s where I’ve been the strongest this year, I’ve qualified sixth, seventh, eighth many times this season. That’s good, and I’m pretty pleased with that.”
The rumours are that the Frenchman will take over from Valtteri Bottas in 2020, should the Finn fail to perform next season.
However, Ocon knows that he has to keep improving for Mercedes to give him that chance, and the gains he has made have been tangible.
“I find it more than tiny, how I’ve improved in qualifying,” he added.
“The race pace, I had a pretty solid base from the beginning when I was racing in F1, but I’ve learned in F1 if you don’t start where the car deserves to be it’s difficult to catch back up in the races.
“I can also compare to my team-mate. I think he’s pretty experienced, he’s also improving over the years but less than a rookie.
“Compared to him I think I’m a lot stronger than last year.”