The physical focus bringing out the best from Esteban Ocon
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The physical focus bringing out the best from Esteban Ocon

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Esteban Ocon likes to point out he’s the first driver since Lewis Hamilton to emerge from a spell as Fernando Alonso’s teammate with a superior overall points record. While some may disagree, as LUKE SMITH discovered, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner reckons it’s not just luck which has made him France’s pre-eminent Formula 1 driver of the moment…

As the silver Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton filled his mirrors through the spray and gloom at Suzuka, Esteban Ocon knew he had a fight on his hands. From far back, the seven-time world champion would appear on the inside line at the hairpin, trying to spook Ocon into a mistake. The younger man neatly dodged the attack, making a wider line work to cut Hamilton off at the exit, only to face another assault moments later at the Spoon – where he again held his nerve and left the draggy Mercedes trailing.

This dance continued for lap after lap as Ocon stubbornly kept Hamilton at bay until the chequered flag. It may have only been for fourth, and it was relatively brief owing to the circumstance of the race – a 40-minute sprint following a rain-induced hiatus – yet it was a deeply impressive display from a driver who is standing out in Formula 1’s congested midfield.

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