Ocon: Condensed season has hurt performance in F1 comeback

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Esteban Ocon believes Formula 1's condensed 2020 season has limited his ability to improve during his comeback year.

Having spent 2019 on the sidelines at Mercedes, expectations were high for the Frenchman's return with Renault based on the potential he showed previously at Force India.

But though it would be unfair to describe his performance as poor, he has struggled to match teammate Daniel Ricciardo, with the pair separated by 56 points in the Drivers' Championship.

“After my year out, I thought coming back it would take a little time for myself to get back into it, to get integrated properly into the team and try and work the way I did in Force India," he explained.

“But it took a little bit more time, I think, than I thought.

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“And you know, the way the season is condensed as well, you don’t have much time to reflect on the race – you go straight away into another one.

“That’s how it’s been with the triple-headers.

“We didn’t have proper time to analyse everything and make it apply [to my performance] – we only had two days to get to it, and [then] straightaway get back to the fight."

Also with the lengthy shutdown followed by the rapid-fire revised 2020 schedule, Ocon admits the still-evolving relationship he had with his Renault team also limited their ability to extract the optimum performance.

“I think earlier in the year we were not understanding ourselves between my side of the garage and myself – just basically working together [we were] not as one, I would say,” he said.

“It’s been a lot better now, we’ve understood each other a lot better [lately].

“And, putting that on the set-up of the car, it’s a big step.

“It’s also more driving for me and more running [as the season has progressed] – I just feel a lot more comfortable overall and basically it’s been better.”

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Unfortunately for Renault, however, that gap between their drivers could well come back to haunt them in the fight for third in the Constructors' Championship between themselves, Racing Point and McLaren.

After Istanbul, the Enstone team is now 18 points behind the Pink Panthers, leaving Ricciardo doubtful on their chances to catch up.

"For sure now we are the underdog but it is still doable,” he said.

“There are still three races, if there was only one race left or even two I would be more pessimistic. But we can still do it.

“It is a shame that there was a big swing [in Turkey]. It does sting, we cannot deny that. But with three races to go, we still have a chance to pull it off.

“Although the races will be dry there will still be a bit going on. Bahrain is a tight Turn 1, and maybe Sergio [Perez] and Lance [Stroll] want to get into each other! We will see!”