In the early part of 2019, Esteban Ocon has been a forgotten man… one forced into the reserve role at Mercedes, following a huge grid reshuffle, Daniel Ricciardo the catalyst.

Ocon’s prospects with the Silver Arrows for 2020 also looked bleak with Valtteri Bottas resurgent on the back of new mental toughness; the Finn storming to two wins from the first four races.

… in Australia, where he was untouchable, and Azerbaijan.

But two disappointing races in Monaco and Canada has put Bottas on the back foot. 29 points now the gap to teammate Lewis Hamilton after seven races, his title challenge hopes slipping away… 

It’s a godsend for Ocon, who desperately needs Bottas faltering for a call up to the Silver Arrows, where the Frenchman toils in preparation, albeit in the background… 

"I have to show patience and I hope it will be rewarded,” he said. “I help the team a lot in moving the car forward and I'm learning a lot.”

Ocon made his full-time debut with Force India in 2017, upping his game following nine starts with Manor the previous year.

FORCE INDIA 2017-2018:
“It’s been very, very intense, much more than it’s ever been. And I’ve been two months of training, plus 5 kilo. 9-hours of cardio per week, 10-hours of gym per week.”

The result - Force India’s best-ever season with 16 double points finishes from 20 races, only Monaco, Azerbaijan, Belgium and Brazil breaking the squad’s golden run. The majority collision related.

… as the rivalry between Ocon and teammate Sergio Perez heated up.

2018 was a tough season for the small Silverstone-based squad with its financial issues leading to administration and Racing Point.

“Any parts we have, we have to be careful to not break it. Or do [any] stupid mistake because we need to score points, that’s how the team will go quicker by the time, by having the money as well.”

Mid-year, Ocon looked set for a Renault drive, and had even agreed on a deal, but Ricciardo’s shock switch changed all that… with Carlos Sainz jumping to McLaren, Lance Stroll replacing him at Racing Point.

The perfect storm ending in a season on the sidelines.

And as his home event beckons, one he won’t be on the grid for, Ocon will no doubt be more motivated than ever to get a drive, with his focus on securing that plum Silver Arrows seat…