Ocon keen to 'turn the page' after tough 2019, talks 'beautiful' racing

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Esteban Ocon is keen to "turn the page" on the past 12 months, describing 2019 as "one of the toughest times I've ever had".

Having impressed during his first two and a half years on the grid with Manor and then Force India, the Frenchman fell victim to the latter team's takeover by Lawrence Stroll as he lost his seat to the entrepreneur's son Lance.

Following a year as reserve driver at Mercedes, he is back on the grid for 2020 at Renault, and speaking in Australia, he compared his feelings now versus last year.

"It is very different compared to 2019,” Ocon said via Crash.net. "It was probably one of the toughest times I have ever had here.

“I have been on the sideline just watching and seeing drivers performing well on track, the team performing, but me not doing anything pretty much.

“I didn’t know at the time when I was going to drive a car again as the next test was four or five months later and that got cancelled so it happened a bit later so it was a tough moment that is for sure.

“But now it is time to turn the page and I am looking forward to the future.”

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That future is hopefully to rebuild the reputation he had before his season away when he was known for his 'Oconsistency' and considered in a similar vein to the other exciting youngsters on the grid.

In the meantime though, the 23-year-old is simply pleased to be back doing what he loves.

"You are never sure that you are going to have a seat in Formula 1," Ocon told Formula1.com. "What I'm sure of is that I don't want to have any regrets. I think regrets are the worst thing that you can have in your life.

"I always wanted to drive the best cars in the world, and Formula 1 has the best cars in the world, that's the first reason why I race.

"Then competing with those cars, being one with the car, is just something that in my mind is beautiful. I just love racing.

"It's a good feeling when you are pulling away," he continued. "Just trying to be more clever than the guy behind. When that works, it is a great satisfaction.

"In the past, I have won championships by my consistency. By the end, you remember the guy who won one race."

And as for the performance of his 2020 Renault car, Esteban hopes it will be enough to fight at the front of the midfield again.

“Hopefully it will surprise us in a good way,” he said. “We made a step up but hopefully we have made more of a step up than the others, that is our target.

“There are always little things that we put on the car to have small improvements, during the year it is the aim to progress race by race and make the car stronger.

"We know the direction and how we should improve it so it is all up to us now."