Esteban Ocon says he is “100 per cent ready” to go head-to-head with Max Verstappen yet again.
In 2014, the teenage Frenchman actually beat Verstappen to the European F3 crown, but it was the younger Dutchman who went onto to make his meteoric F1 debut.
Ocon, however, is not far behind. He won the GP3 championship last year and is now on loan by Mercedes to Renault’s works F1 team, where he stands a chance of making his grand prix debut next year.
Mercedes’ Toto Wolff calls Ocon “one of the stars of the future”.
“Did Toto really say that?” the 19-year-old excitedly told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.
Asked if he feels ready for F1, Ocon answered: “Yes, 100 per cent. I’ll do anything to reach the highest level.
“I know where I came from and how many sacrifices we have made and I do not want to miss my opportunity if it comes,” he added.
Ocon says his relationship with Verstappen is now good, but admits that when they were fighting for F3 spoils, there were difficult moments.
“During the season we said nothing to each other and sometimes we seemed to hate each other, but after the season we forgive and forget.
“He’s doing a great job,” Ocon said, still referring to Verstappen. “I never doubted he would. He deserves it.
“That Max is doing so well now is good for young drivers. It means we might get more of a chance in F1, because it shows that age does not matter.”