Looking to force his way into a confirmed seat for the 2019 season, Esteban Ocon hopes to repeat the sixth place finish he scored at last year’s United States Grand Prix at the “fantastic” Circuit of the Americas.
With four points finishes in the last five races – including two sixth places – Ocon is keen to continue the momentum gathered by the rejuvenated Racing Point Force India F1 Team and hopes to utilise the opportunities for “fighting” produced by the Austin circuit.
“Austin is a fantastic track and it features lots of nice bits from other circuits combined into one,” said Ocon.
“You have a first sector that looks like Suzuka and a tight section that reminds me of Mexico: it’s a good track for fighting, with some quick corners and some chances to overtake.
“Turn 1 and the left hander at the end of the back straight are quite good opportunities.”
Ocon highlighted the technical first sector as his favourite part of the track, emphasising the need for excellent car positioning and car set-up in order to achieve a good lap time.
“The first sector is my favourite section,” he continued.
“It’s very quick, very technical and in the ‘Esses’ you need to position the car well otherwise you end up losing time in all the following corners.
“It’s good fun, but so tricky to get right. Setting the car up is a big challenge. You need a car you can trust in the quick sections and a good car in the slow section – not an easy compromise.”
Speaking about the atmosphere of the weekend, the Frenchman paid tribute to the culture, “young vibe” and the steakhouses of Austin.
“What makes this weekend special is also the city of Austin,” he explained.
“It’s such a cool place, with a lot of nice venues with live music. It has a very young vibe; it’s definitely an enjoyable place and it’s nice to stay there a bit longer to experience the town before going on to Mexico.
“There are lot of cool things to do and last year I went to enjoy a proper, big American steak.
“When I was a kid, one of my dreams was to travel to the United States and I didn’t come here until my first race in Austin in 2016, so I have a lot of catching up to do!”
In a fiercely contested midfield battle, Ocon stands eleventh in the Drivers’ Championship, just four points adrift of team-mate and seventh placed driver, Sergio Pérez. Despite losing all their points post-Belgium, Force India have the chance to move ahead of the McLaren F1 Team and into sixth position in the Constructors’ Championship before the end of the North and Central American leg. Struggling McLaren currently hold a 15 point advantage.