Esteban Ocon claims he is one driver who would be capable of beating Max Verstappen to the Formula 1 World Championship in equal machinery.

The Frenchman and Verstappen previously went head-to-head for the Formula 3 European title in 2014, with Ocon coming out on top despite the Red Bull driver winning more races.

While Verstappen has gone on to win 41 grands prix and is primed to win his third consecutive Drivers’ title this year, Ocon has spent the bulk of his F1 career in the midfield, scooping a solitary victory alongside two further podiums.

However, Ocon, who scored an impressive third place at Monaco earlier this year, reckons he would be capable of battling his old adversary for the highest prize in F1 if given the same equipment.

“I see myself fighting with Verstappen for the World Championship if we had the same car,” Ocon told DAZN.

“Max is doing an incredible job, he is dominating with Red Bull, but I don’t care who the driver is. “I want to fight for the Championship. I’ve always believed in myself. There’s a long road ahead, but my goal is to be World Champion.”

The podium (L to R): Fernando Alonso (ESP) Aston Martin F1 Team, second; Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing, race winner; Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team, third. 28.05.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 7, Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo, Monaco, Race Day.

Like Verstappen in his earlier F1 years, Ocon has often been criticised by his fellow competitors for what they perceived to be over-aggressive defensive manouerves.

Ocon notably had a series of run-ins with ex-Alpine team-mate Fernando Alonso last year, prompting the Spaniard to publicly voice his disapproval on several occasions.

Although Alonso has since switched to Aston Martin, the two-time champion had to avoid a sudden change of movement from Ocon as the pair battled for position in the closing stages of the Spanish Grand Prix.

But while Ocon acknowledges he has a tendency to battle hard, he contends he sees no problem with the way he goes racing. 

“The truth is I don’t want people to think I’m a tough guy, because I’m a nice guy out there,” he added.

“But my way of driving is hard. It’s probably true, but I’m happy with it.”

Following a troublesome beginning to the campaign, Ocon has collected points in each of the last four races to lie ninth in the Drivers’ Championship on 29 points.

The 26-year-old has scored nearly double the points of new Alpine team-mate Pierre Gasly, with the all-French pairing combining to have the Enstone side sat in fifth place.

Meanwhile, at Red Bull, Sergio Perez has desperately struggled for form in recent rounds. The Mexican has failed to reach Q3 for the past three weekends and has been a feature on the podium since Miami.

Consequently, Perez has dropped 69 points behind Red Bull team-mate Verstappen, who has led every lap of the last three races.

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