Date published: June 30 2020
Esteban Ocon has had the longest wait of all the F1 drivers, barring the rookie, to get going with the Frenchman last racing in 2018.
Dropped by Racing Point at the end of the 2018 championship in favour of the owner’s son, Lance Stroll, Ocon spent 2019 on the sidelines working with Mercedes as its reserve driver.
This year he is back on the grid having signed with Renault.
The Frenchman, like his rivals, had prepared for a March start to the championship only for that to be delayed by the pandemic.
Three months after the first chequered flag was scheduled to fall, it will do so this Sunday in Austria.
It will be the end of a very long wait for Ocon.
“It’s been a year and a half of waiting to be on the Formula 1 grid again, so I’m very excited for this first race,” he said.
“It feels fantastic to be starting the season.
“We have set our targets; we know what we want to achieve on track, and I know what I have to do behind the wheel.
“A lot of work has gone into preparing for this first race, I’m with a great team, driving a competitive car and I’m certainly hungry for it.”
He added: “I know Austria hasn’t been the strongest circuit for the team in the past, but we’ll look to turn that around this year.
“The car performed well in Barcelona and we definitely learnt a lot.
“It looks promising, we have some new things on the car as well.
“There will be lots of data gathering on Friday to see what we’ve improved, see what else we can change and to get up to speed once again.
“I’m looking forward to it, and we’ll be targeting coming away with points.”
Ocon recently spent time at the Red Bull Ring, putting in the laps in a two-year-old Renault F1 car before swapping to a 50km run in this year’s RS20.
“I found it very beneficial to get back into driving a car again,” he said of the test.
“It felt good and so cool to be on a real track after playing on my home simulator for these last few months! Driving out of the garage again was a very special feeling.
“It didn’t take me long to get back on the pace. I felt sharp, quick and definitely ready to race.”