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Esteban Ocon

Exclusive: Verstappen successes hurts Ocon: 'My time will come'

It's a rivalry that stems all the way back to go karts between Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and Esteban Ocon. However, the latter driver is not yet as successful in Formula 1.

Ocon Brazil
To news overview © RN365/Michael Potts

One Grand Prix victory against 54 for Max Verstappen. This is the reality for Esteban Ocon in Formula 1.

The Frenchman has shown shades of brilliance at the wheel of the Alpine, namely his win at Hungary and podium at Monaco, but he's yet to break out of his spot in the midfield.

Ocon's rise to F1 was matched by Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, who both competed with him from karts through to Formula 3. His rivalry with the Dutchman stretches back to these early days on track, making their collision in Brazil in 2019 all the more controversial.

Ocon became champion in Formula 3 while Verstappen was starting off his career in single seaters, but the Frenchman indicated in an exclusive interview with RacingNews365 that he would like to compete more with his former rivals.

"It is a pain, for sure" Ocon says. "But I'm working still as if we are going for wins and podiums after every weekend. You have to re-adjust your target and my target is to get the best out of the car every race weekend.

"I believe if I work hard and do well on the track then my time will come. One day I will have a car that I can compete in for championships and wins. I'm looking forward to that."

Ocon would love to drive the 24 Hours of Le Mans

Ocon hails from the Évreux commune located in the region of Normandy in France. After entering go-kart championships in 2006, he won the Cadet class in 2008 ahead of the late Anthoine Hubert and teammate Pierre Gasly.

From there he competed in the WSK Euro Series in 2011, where he finished runner up to a certain three-time F1 World Champion: "I've been growing up with these guys who are leading all the time; Charles and Max. I know what I'm capable of.

"I never actually thought we would all make it to Formula 1 and that's probably why we succeeded, because if you start to see yourself up there it's not a good thing. Maybe it has played a part that we were all together and pushed each other in the go-karts. We've built a super strong generation and it's good to see we are all up here."

You would think that with 22 races on the calendar drivers would want to get away from racing when relaxing? Ocon still finds some time to watch other categories.

"Yeah. I have some good friends and one of them won the Porsche Supercup in France. I've friends in the GT [classes] as well," explains Ocon.

"When I look at all the categories, how many drivers are professionals and have had successes? It's crazy and I've raced against them in go-karts. It was a very strong field of generation and I'm proud to have been part of it."

Both Leclerc and Verstappen have voiced their desire to compete in the 24 hours of Le Mans, with Nico Hulkenberg winning it in 2015 with Porsche and Fernando Alonso taking victory with Toyota in 2018 and 2019.

With Alpine following a number of manufacturers in competing in the newly formed Hypercar class in the World Endurance Championship, we ever see Ocon compete other categories such as the famous 24 hour race?

"One day. Never say never, but right now I'm obviously fully focused on Formula 1. It is clear that Le Mans is a phenomenal race and it would be cool if they could schedule it between F1 races," he explains.

"If one F1 driver makes the switch, many will follow. It's something for the future now."

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