Published On: Sun, Mar 17th, 2024

F1 ace opens up on fear tactics of Max and Jos Verstappen at races – ‘everyone was afraid’ | F1 | Sport

F1 star Esteban Ocon has revealed that he used to fear Max Verstappen and his dad Jos Verstappen when breaking through as a driver on the motorsport scene. The French racer has opened up about his experiences with the Verstappens, as well as what it was like interacting with Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff as a junior driver.

A member of the Alpine Team since 2021, Ocon has established himself as a regular name on the grid in recent years. The Normandy-born star has enjoyed a middle-of-the-road F1 career so far, with his highest finish for a campaign being eighth – a ranking he achieved during his second season as a driver with former constructor Force India.

However, during an interview with High Performance, Ocon spoke about what it was like to break through at a similar time to Red Bull’s Verstappen: “When we drove with my father against him [Max Verstappen] and his father [Jos Verstappen] everyone was always a little afraid of Jos and Max, because Jos had of course previously been active as a Formula 1 driver.”

Having enjoyed a career of his own in the paddock, dad Jos dedicated life after racing to developing his son Max’s talents. It worked out for Verstappen junior, as he was spotted by Red Bull chief Helmut Marko while driving in GP3, before eventually making his F1 debut with Toro Rosso in 2015.

For Ocon though, his path to the biggest stage was a little more bumpy. He wasn’t afforded the luxury of being picked up by an F1 team, with Ocon having to spend another year racing in the GP3 championship. While speaking about the trials and tribulations of being a junior driver, Ocon labelled parts of the experience as ‘unfair’.

“These are things we had no control over. That was the point where I almost started working as a mechanic for my father. The junior program I was in at the time was on the verge of going bankrupt.

“Between 2014 and 2015 I was constantly on the phone with Toto Wolff to see if there was a solution for me. The following year I met him because I had won in the GP3 with a Mercedes engine.”

He added: “It was very tough then. Especially because it wasn’t fair from my side. I didn’t immediately say that I would get into Formula 1, because I always believed that my time would eventually come. At that moment I knew However, I wasn’t even sure if I could continue racing. For me, that wasn’t fair at the time.”

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