Ocon pleased to return to the site of his GP3 title triumph

by William Brierty

Esteban Ocon is looking forward to the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, at a circuit that has played host to some of the most important moments of his career. “I have great memories from Yas Marina: this is where I was crowned GP3 champion in 2015 and where I drove my first First Practice 1 session in Formula One. I have done so much testing around there and I like the place.”

As a newly-crowned European F3 champion in 2014, Ocon took part in Free Practice 1 with the Lotus Team before returning to the cockpit for the final day of the Abu Dhabi post-race test. A year later the Yas Marina circuit played host to the Frenchman’s second title triumph in as many years, as he scooped the GP3 championship honours, despite trailing the Italian Luca Ghiotto going into the finale.

Despite collecting his first non-finish from a single-seater race since 2014 in Brazil, Ocon reflects positively on his first full season in F1 and believes Force India can round-off the season with a strong result.

“This season went by so quickly – it’s unbelievable to think we’re already at the final race of the season because it feels like yesterday that we were in Australia. It’s been a successful season and I hope we can finish it in style with a big result.”

“The two long straights [in Abu Dhabi] are good opportunities to overtake: you can use the first to get really close to the car in front and make the move on the second. There are opportunities to shake the order up so the race can be quite exciting.”

The 21-year-old concedes that he is already thinking about his plans for the off-season, but stresses the race to prepare for next season starts immediately after Abu Dhabi: “After Abu Dhabi, it’s not really holidays. It’s back to training, back to the mountains for almost two months. I want to be ready for next season, when the cars are likely to go even faster.”

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