Ocon 'hungry to restart' after 'crazy' wait for F1 return

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While the past four months have dragged on waiting for the new Formula 1 season, imagine being Renault's Esteban Ocon.

The Frenchman is returning to the grid this season after spending last as reserve driver at Mercedes, this following his departure from Force India at the end of 2018 having been replaced by Lance Stroll.

So having already spent one full year so close, yet so far from the action in F1, it's understandable Ocon was pretty miffed when Covid-19 delayed his comeback even more.

"A year and a half - it's just crazy," he said. "It seems like everything was going against me for me to restart.

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Esteban Ocon Renault F1

"It's been way too long to wait. Last year was very difficult, this year is different, a different feeling.

"I'm at a great team, I've got a great challenge ahead with a competitive car, and I look forward to restarting.

"I knew what I was working for, how much I wanted it and I'm hungry to restart."

Renault head to Austria this weekend perhaps with a little head start on the rest as they've already tested the new coronavirus protocols at the Red Bull Ring last week.

And commenting on that day in the 2018 car, Esteban was certainly pleased to get back out on track.

"I felt good restarting in the car, it was so cool to get back to a real track after spending so much time doing esports," Ocon said.

"Going back to a real track felt awesome, going out of the garage was a special feeling after such a long time.

"It didn't take me long to get back up to pace. I felt good, I felt sharp and quick, so [I am] definitely ready to restart in Austria."

Ocon also joins a Renault team keen to put a disappointing 2019 behind them as they failed to continue the progress of recent years and, in fact, slid back behind McLaren in the midfield.

“We have a mission," team boss Cyril Abiteboul commented. “We have some frustration with last year and what we’ve done. I really believe that we can do better this year.

“We certainly have a car that should allow us to do better, so that’s the focus here and now.”