Esteban Ocon has long established himself in Formula 1 and has come
a long way since he made his debut with the now-defunct Manor team
in 2016. Having spent a handful of years at Force India/Racing
Point, Ocon joined Alpine for the 2020 campaign (when it ran under
the Renault brand) after he loosened his ties with Mercedes. Since
joining the French manufacturer he has continued to expand his
racing skills and became a race winner when he triumphed after a
strong drive at the Hungaroring in 2021. It was during that
race-winning year when Red Bull’s Max Verstappen claimed his F1
title, besting Lewis Hamilton to the championship in wild
circumstances at the finale in Abu Dhabi. Ocon and Verstappen have
long known each other as they shared the track during their karting
days when their paths to Formula 1 were first forged. They also
competed in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship in 2014, with
Ocon winning the title while Verstappen ended the year in third.
The most public flashpoint between the two occurred at the 2018
Brazilian Grand Prix when Ocon attempted to unlap himself by
overtaking Verstappen who was leading the race at the time. Neither
backed out as they approached Turn 2 and Verstappen was sent into a
spin, handing the victory to Lewis Hamilton. Post-race, cameras
caught Verstappen shoving Ocon a handful of times in a
confrontation – but Ocon believes that the situation was blown up
to be bigger than it was. “The media push it massively,” Ocon told . “I have big respect for Max. He has for me as
well. “We have a lot more in common than what you guys think. We
had a very close background with our families. “My dad was not an
F1 driver, but how we were at the races with his dad, you know,
preparing everything and his family being very close and mine as
well.” Ocon happy for Verstappen success Ocon has admitted that a
rivalry between the Ocons and Verstappens existed during their
karting days but asserted it was always good-natured. “There was a
big rivalry as well from the families, but it was very nice,” said
Ocon. “I’ve seen my dad and his dad together at Spa-Francorchamps a
couple of years ago, they were chatting to each other speaking
about good times. “That’s also how we’ve built ourselves. We’ve
been pushing each other. There are some heated moments at times but
that’s how sport goes.” Verstappen has dominated F1 over the last
couple of seasons and recently sealed his third F1 title – an
achievement that Ocon is happy to see. “There’s no dramas, all is
good,” the Fernchman declared. “And I’m very happy for him for
everything that’s happening to him.”

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