Driver Profile: Esteban Ocon

NameEsteban José Jean-Pierre Ocon-Khelfane
Date of Birth17 September 1996
Place of BirthÉvreux, Normandy, France
Car Number31
First Entry2016 Belgian Grand Prix
First Win2021 Hungarian Grand Prix
Alpine’s Esteban Ocon celebrates after winning Hungarian GP Pool via REUTERS/Florion Goga

Biography of F1 driver Esteban Ocon

Having started his karting career in 2006, Ocon finished eighth during his first season in the French Minime Championship. After winning the title the following year, he would go on to take spot in the French Cadet Championship and French KF3, while finishing his final season in karting as runner-up in the 2011 WSK Euro Series.

Ocon made his single-seaters debut the following year, driving for Koiranen Motorsport in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0. After finishing the season in 14th, he moved to the ART Junior Team, where he registered a win at Le Castellet to finish the season in third.

In 2014, Ocon raced for Prema Powerteam in the European Formula 3 Championship, winning the championship with a race to spare. This title helped him secure a seat with ART Grand Prix for the 2015 GP3 Series, where he also took top spot despite ending the season with just one victory, while also entering the Mercedes Junior Team.

Ocon lands in F1 with Manor

Ocon’s first experience in an F1 car came in 2014 when he took part in a two-day test for Lotus, before taking part in the first practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix a month later.

After taking part in the first 10 races of the 2016 DTM season with Mercedes-Benz, while also serving as reserve driver for Renault, Ocon was named as Rio Haryanto’s replacement at Manor. His best result was 12th in the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Force India hand Ocon full-time seat

Ocon landed a full-time seat alongside Sergio Perez at Force India for the 2017 season, scoring his first points for the team at the Australian Grand Prix. He ended a run of five-straight points finishes to start the year with a fifth in Spain, before embarking on a run of 12 consecutive points finishes.

Despite the relative success, Ocon was involved in several incidents with Perez. A collision in Azerbaijan knocked Perez out of the race while giving Ocon a puncture, with the two making contact at the Belgian Grand Prix that ended the Mexican’s race.

In the end, Ocon finishes his first full F1 season in eighth with 87 points.

Ocon and Perez remained at Force India for the 2018 season, however unlike the previous year, the Frenchman could only manage one points finish over the course of the first five races.

Force India become Racing Point Force India

The big talking point that season came when Force India faced liquidation after the Hungarian Grand Prix, with a group of creditors, including Perez, taking legal action to put the team into administration.

The team were thus saved, with the assets purchased by a consortium led by Lawrence Stroll, the father of then Williams driver Lance Stroll. The new owners confirmed that both Ocon and Perez would end the year with the newly formed Racing Point Force India.

The team’s first race in Belgium saw Ocon start third, before finishing sixth, though issues between the Frenchman and Perez emerged on track once again. The two collided at the Singapore Grand Prix, resulting in Ocon crashing into the wall, with the team banning the two from racing each other in the future.

Ocon was disqualified from the United States Grand Prix for exceeding fuel flow limits, while he collided with race leader Max Verstappen at the Brazilian Grand Prix while trying to un-lap himself. Both cars continued, with Ocon receiving a 10-second stop-and-go penalty, with the two arguing and pushing each other several times after the race. Verstappen was later ordered to undertake two days of public service for the altercation, while Ocon retired from the final race to end the year 12th with 49 points.

Ocon left without a seat

With Racing Point opting to sign Lance Stroll for the 2019 season, Ocon found himself without a seat. As a result he was named Mercedes’ reserve driver, though he did not take part in a Grand Prix weekend that year.

Return to F1 with Renault

It only took one season for Ocon to find a new seat on the F1 grid, with Renault signing him on a two-year contract to replace Nico Hulkenberg. He regularly finishes in the points throughout the year, though the Frenchman was also forced to retire from four of the 17 races.

Ocon’s season highlight came at the Sakhir Grand Prix, a race which saw him line-up 11th on the grid. Ocon found himself third during a Virtual Safety Car period, and though he was soon overtaken by Perez, pit stop issues for the two leading Mercedes cars allowed him to claim his first F1 podium by finishing second.

Ocon remained with the now rebranded Alpine team for the 2021 season, though Fernando Alonso was brought in to replace the departing Daniel Ricciardo.

After finishing outside the points in Bahrain due to being rear-ended by Sebastian Vettel, Ocon finished the next four races in the points. This was followed by a run of four races without points, with Ocon ending the drought with ninth in Britain.

The season highlight for Alpine and Ocon came in Hungary, a race that saw the Frenchman start down in eighth. A series of collisions at the start saw Ocon find himself second at the first corner, which later turned into first after Lewis Hamilton pitted for dry tyres a lap later than everyone else.

Despite a race-long battle with Vettel, Ocon held off the Aston Martin driver to claim a maiden F1 victory. The Frenchman added to his strong season with fifth and fourth place finishes in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which helped him end the year in 11th with 74 points, seven back of Alonso.

Both drivers will return with Alpine for the 2022 F1 season.