Esteban Ocon

Points 92 Position 8 Date of Birth September / 17 / 1996
Place of Birth Evreux Team Alpine Car Number 31

Esteban Ocon is a French Formula 1 driver who was born in Évreux, Normandy on 17 September 1996.

He began his F1 career in 2016, driving for Manor Racing in the second half of the season as a replacement to Rio Haryanto, debuting at the 2016 Belgian Grand Prix.

A Mercedes junior, Ocon signed a multi-year deal with Force India ahead of the 2017 campaign and he would remain with the team throughout 2018, at which point they became known as Racing Point Force India when a consortium headed by Lawrence Stroll purchased the bankrupt Force India team.

With one seat at the then fully rebranded Racing Point entry destined to go to Lance Stroll for 2019, Perez and Ocon battled it out for the second spot, with Perez coming out on top.

That left Ocon on the sidelines for 2019 as he focused solely on his development driver role for Mercedes, but he returned for 2020 after signing a deal to join Renault where he partnered Daniel Ricciardo, though he struggled to live up to expectations.

Ocon for large parts of the season struggled to match Ricciardo's performance levels, but with a change of team-mate for 2021 as Fernando Alonso made his return, Ocon blossomed, even becoming a race winner for the first time.

Ocon was born in France but is of Algerian and Spanish descent as his maternal family is originally from Malaga.

Career

After appearing in four FP1 sessions for Renault in 2016, Esteban Ocon's debut came with the struggling Manor Racing outfit as he joined them to replace Rio Haryanto after his sponsors had failed to meet their contractual obligations.

Ocon would begin his F1 career with P16 at the Belgian Grand Prix, while he achieved his best result of the season with P12 in the chaotic Brazilian GP, where he only dropped out of the points on the last lap.

In November 2016 it was announced that Mercedes had signed a multi-year deal for Ocon to join Force India.

P10 at the season-opening Australian GP would give Ocon his first F1 point, and that would be his finishing position for the next two rounds, while he extended that points-scoring streak with P7 in Russia and then P5 in Spain.

In a fantastic rookie season Ocon finished outside the points on just two occasions, deservedly claiming P8 in the Drivers' Championship with 87 points, just 13 behind team-mate Sergio Perez.

Ocon continued with the team for 2018, but as the summer break approached it became clear that Force India were in serious financial trouble and faced a winding-up order from HMRC.

Thankfully the team would be rescued by Lawrence Stroll's consortium, and after Perez played a role in saving the team from collapse, rumours swirled that Lawrence's son Lance Stroll would be soon making the switch from Williams to Racing Point Force India.

No announcement was imminently made as Ocon and Perez returned to battling it out on-track, and Ocon began in style by qualifying P3 for the Belgian Grand Prix and going on to finish P6.

Sadly though the battles between Ocon and Perez were heated to say the least as the pair demonstrated through their actions that for one of them, their time with the team was running out.

The low point came in Singapore when Ocon and Perez collided on the first lap, causing Ocon to crash into a wall and ending his race. It was a collision which was quite clearly meant to happen from Perez's side, and the team understandably reacted by banning the drivers from racing each other. Perez at least apologised for his role in the accident.

Ocon would run into further trouble at the Brazilian GP, but this time with Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

Ocon attempted to unlap himself against race leader Verstappen, but he would get it horribly wrong, causing damage to both of their cars and costing Verstappen the win.

A 10-second stop-go penalty was Ocon's punishment, before the pair came to blows after the race, pushing each other several times.

Both drivers were summoned by the FIA and Verstappen was given two days of public service "at the discretion of the FIA" for making deliberate physical contact with Ocon.

Ocon would finish the season P12 in the Drivers' Championship with 49 points and on 23 November 2018 it was confirmed that he would become Mercedes' reserve driver for 2019 after it became clear that he would be replaced at Racing Point by Lance Stroll.

Despite not taking part in a race weekend throughout 2019, Ocon was a contender alongside Valtteri Bottas to be Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate for 2020.

Ocon would miss out though to the Finn who was retained by Mercedes for a fourth season.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff later admitted that he chose not to place Ocon in the second Mercedes because he feared it could damage his career going up against Hamilton who secured a sixth World Championship in 2019.

The Frenchman's return to the F1 grid in 2020 was confirmed though after he signed a deal to join Renault to race alongside Daniel Ricciardo.

But, Wolff's hopes, and those of many really, that Ocon would shine over at Renault never really came to fruition. Despite a handful of solid drives, namely at the Belgian Grand Prix and later P2 at the Sakhir GP, his first Formula 1 podium, Ocon was consistently second best against Ricciardo.

A haul of 62 points for Ocon certainly wasn't bad, and there's no denying the talents of seven-time race winner Ricciardo, but it was an intra-team battle which was expected to be a lot closer than it was.

Albeit aided by Mercedes' meltdown in the pits and later a puncture for George Russell, Ocon's P2 at the Sakhir GP was a very timely reminder of the talent he possess, and as it turned out, that was the springboard to a far improved version of the Frenchman.

It was all change at Renault as they morphed into Alpine for 2021, keen to promote that division of their portfolio, and Ocon had another major challenge on the other side of the garage in the returning Fernando Alonso, who was rejoining the team which had helped him to the 2005 and 2006 Drivers' titles.

As Alonso struggled in the early rounds to gel with the Alpine A521, Ocon had no such troubles, scoring points in four of the first five rounds, with a contract extension until 2024 soon arriving, but his true breakthrough moment was yet to come.

At a chaotic Hungarian Grand Prix, Ocon navigated the many hurdles to find himself leading the race, and the only real remaining threat was Lewis Hamilton recovering through the pack.

Alonso took care of that problem though, holding Hamilton up for long enough to remove him from the equation, allowing Ocon to race on and claim his first victory in Formula 1.

A power steering upgrade had meant that Alonso was back very close to his best, but Ocon continued to hold his own, finishing in the points in Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Turkey after that Hungary win, forming another stint of four points' finishes in five races.

Ocon then saw out the season in style with four-consecutive top 10 results, crowned by a P5 in Qatar and then P4 in Saudi Arabia, both new stops on the Formula 1 calendar. Saudi Arabia was as close as you can get without making the podium, as Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas beat Ocon's Renault-powered Alpine in a drag race to the finish line.

 

Finishing P8 and P9 either side of those results at the Sao Paulo and Abu Dhabi GPs respectively, Ocon played a crucial role in securing P5 in the Constructors' Championship for Alpine.

History

Esteban Ocon has a very well established karting background after first entering in 2006. He won French Minime Championship in his second season and followed up with another trophy the year after in the French Cadet Championship.

That gave Ocon the springboard to move up to the KF3 karting category where he would spend three seasons developing his racing talent and ultimately led to him winning the French KF3 title and finishing runner-up in the WSK Euro Series.

At the age of 14, Ocon was signed up to Renault Formula 1 team's sister company Gravity Sports Management.

After a couple of years of Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 series racing with Koiranen Motorsport and ART respectively, Ocon would join forces with Prema to win the European Formula 3 Championship in 2014, the same year he also began testing for the Lotus F1 team.

In 2015, Ocon would win the GP3 series despite just winning one race all season and forged a closer connection with Mercedes in the process, joining their young driver programme.

2016 saw Ocon compete for Mercedes in the DTM category whilst also becoming a reserve driver for Renault. However, both duties were cut short as an opportunity opened up for the Frenchman to join Formula 1 team Manor Racing for the final nine races of the season.

The Frenchman was believed to be earning an annual salary of £2.5million when he was racing alongside Sergio Perez at the team formerly known as Force India, but at Renault, now known as Alpine, he actually took a pay cut.

His reported current salary though represents a recovery and then some, with his Alpine deal now said to earn him around £3.7m a season.

He also has a healthy collection of personal backers to boost his earnings, which include Castrol, Infiniti, MAPFRE, BP Ultimate, Dupont, Microsoft and Bell and Ross.

Castrol reportedly pay part of Ocon's salary as part of the sponsorship deal. His overall net worth is reported to b around £5m.

Esteban Ocon's parents, Sabrina Khelfane and Laurent Ocon, gave up almost everything to raise as much money as possible for their son to realise his dream of becoming a Formula 1 driver.

"It hasn’t been easy," Ocon said in an interview with Reuters. "A lot of sacrifices were done for me to keep racing. We were living in a caravan for a long time.

"We needed all the money to be able to pay for the racing. I was very lucky to get (into) Gravity Academy, with money, to support my career.

"And then the Lotus F1 junior team until Formula Three and then Mercedes, because if not it was over already from go-karts."

Esteban Ocon has been in a long-term relationship with Elena Berri and has often accompanied him in the Formula 1 paddock.

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