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Ocon satisfied he met Mercedes goals for 2018 season

Written by  Dec 29, 2018

Esteban Ocon believes he achieved the goal set out by Mercedes for his 2018 season, improving his pace in qualifying.

The Frenchman would beat Force India teammate Sergio Perez 16-5 over the course of the year with an average gap of almost half a second between them.

A number of retirements would see him finish 13 points behind the Mexican in the Drivers' Championship but Ocon saw this year as just another step in his development.

“It is my target to win the championship and we will see how the future evolves, but I guess Mercedes wanted to see that their driver could perform well in qualifying,” he said.

“In any kind of racing it’s important to start ahead and when we have aero like this it’s very hard to pass.

“It’s a big help and I’m pretty happy with my improvement. I think qualifying I have improved the most, how to build up the weekend.

“That’s where I’ve been the strongest this year, I’ve qualified sixth, seventh, eighth many times this season. That’s good, and I’m pretty pleased with that.”

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The big drawback now, however, is Ocon faces a year on the sidelines as a reserve at Mercedes as his seat was given to Lance Stroll as part of the takeover which has now the Silverstone-based squad renamed to Racing Point F1.

Even so, the 22-year-old does think his progress until now has been notable.

“I find it more than tiny, how I’ve improved in qualifying,” he claimed. “The race pace, I had a pretty solid base from the beginning when I was racing in F1, but I’ve learned in F1 if you don’t start where the car deserves to be it’s difficult to catch back up in the races.

“I can also compare to my teammate. I think he’s pretty experienced, he’s also improving over the years but less than a rookie.

“Compared to him I think I’m a lot stronger than last year.”

Next year Ocon will have to concentrate on test and simulator duties to hone his skills with speculation he is being lined up to replace Valtteri Bottas in 2020.

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