Ocon re­pays his par­ents’ sac­ri­fices

New Straits Times - - Sport -

whose fa­ther’s fam­ily came from Malaga and whose cousins still live in Spain.

“We needed all the money to be able to pay for the rac­ing. I was very lucky to get (into) Grav­ity Academy, with money, to sup­port my ca­reer.

“And then the Lo­tus F1 ju­nior team un­til Formula Three and then Mercedes, be­cause if not it was over al­ready from go-karts,” added the racer who is still based in his Nor­mandy home­town of Evreux.

Grav­ity Sport Man­age­ment was run at the time by cur­rent McLaren rac­ing direc­tor and for­mer Lo­tus team prin­ci­pal Eric Boul­lier.

In a sport where money can make all the dif­fer­ence to se­cur­ing a seat, there are no doubts about where Ocon stands.

If he had not pro­duced the goods, in­clud­ing beat­ing con­tem­po­rary F1 rival Max Ver­stap­pen to the F3 ti­tle in 2014, he would not be where he is now.

“My par­ents were be­liev­ing in me and they knew I had the tal­ent to do it,” he said of his for­mer ex­is­tence of trav­el­ling from race to race with­out a fixed home to re­turn to while also at­tend­ing school.

“I’d fin­ish a weekend (of rac­ing), (car­a­van) stopped in front of the school, slept there, hear the ring of the school, wake up, go into school. So we were (parked) just in front of the school.

“I was 11 or 12 or some­thing. I was happy to live in the car­a­van back then. I was en­joy­ing my life, I was do­ing kart­ing all the time and it was awe­some for me.”

Ocon, whose fa­ther acted as his me­chanic in those early days, made his Formula One de­but mid­way through last sea­son with now-de­funct Manor as re­place­ment for In­done­sian Rio Haryanto.

He was then signed by Force In­dia for 2017 ahead of Mercedes’ more ex­pe­ri­enced re­serve Pas­cal Wehrlein.

Ocon has made an im­pres­sive start to the new cam­paign by scor­ing in all four races to date, in­clud­ing a sev­enth place fin­ish in Rus­sia.

He sees no rea­son why he can­not one day have the same suc­cess as Ver­stap­pen, who won in Spain last year on his Red Bull de­but.

“I don’t have to be shy against him. I was not the only one to beat him,” he said of the Dutch­man. “I won the F3 ti­tle, (Tom) Blomqvist fin­ished se­cond and Max was third. I have beaten him many times. “He’s ahead now be­cause he’s in F1 longer than me and I’m com­ing there.”Reuters

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