Esteban Ocon has said that he feels in superb condition going into his third Formula 1 season, his second with the Sahara Force India F1 Team.
Ocon impressed in his first full season in the sport after his promotion from the now defunct Manor Racing team at the end of the 2016, with a future seat at Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport – his parent team – looking increasingly likely.
The Frenchman endured a testing relationship on track with team-mate Sergio Pérez in 2017, with the pair coming to blows notably at the Canadian, Azeri and Belgian Grand Prix to the detriment of the team’s points tally; however, the duo’s otherwise consistent performances helped Force India secure a top four finish in the Constructors’ Championship for the second year in succession.
After four months away from competitive action, Ocon says that he feels ready for the upcoming challenges and is excited about racing in Melbourne once again.
“It has been a long winter with a two-month training camp for me in the Pyrenees,” said Ocon.
“But hopefully all the hard work will pay off now the racing is starting. I can honestly say I’m in the best shape of my life. I feel ready to go racing again. Testing is one thing, but now we will get the real answers in terms of our performance.
“Melbourne is a fantastic place. I think everybody in the team enjoys going there. The weather is usually nice and there’s extra excitement because it’s the start of the season. The atmosphere is brilliant all weekend and the fans give you lots of energy.
“I think it’s a perfect place to start the season.”
Force India had a particularly quiet winter testing period at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, sparking fears that the team could fall away in comparison to the McLaren F1 Team and the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team, who are both expected to make improvements on their 2017 campaigns.
Yet the Frenchman is confident in the car he has at his disposal, believing that both he and the team can replicate the points scoring finish seen this time last year.
“I’d like to think we can fight for points in Melbourne,” he added.
“We had a really solid second week of testing in Barcelona. I feel comfortable in the car and it’s very consistent. We have new parts coming for the race so hopefully that’s another performance step.”