Mercedes may have just signed up Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to lead their attack in 2019 and beyond, but Esteban Ocon admits his target is still to drive for the Silver Arrows in the future...
Speaking on the latest episode of the official F1 podcast, Beyond The Grid, presented by Bose, Ocon said that his desire to drive for Mercedes isn’t simply down to the support they have provided him throughout his career, but because of childhood hero Michael Schumacher.
“When I grew up, he [Schumacher] was the one making me love the sport so much – his fights with Fernando,” the Force India ace told Tom Clarkson. “When I was watching the TV with my father, there was Michael – there was nobody else. I grew up with Michael and that red helmet, that red car. It was something special.
“I still have his helmet design, or my design is inspired by his. If you look at the side you it’s all inspired by him. If I go away from Force India I will turn back to his [colour] red.
“I think Ferrari hold [an attraction] to every driver. It’s something special - Ferrari in F1 - it’s mythical. But Michael drove for Mercedes as well, and it’s my target for the future [to drive for them].”
Mercedes have, of course, played a key role in getting Ocon to where he is now, having taken him under their wing through their junior programme. In a wide-ranging and touching conversation, the Frenchman recounts the key role that Toto Wolff played in his career, as well as the unbelievable sacrifices his family made to set him on the path to F1.
His epic battles with fellow young gun Max Verstappen in junior racing and the highly unusually diet that keeps him in peak physical fitness are also discussed – And if you enjoy the show, be sure to subscribe now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or via your favourite podcast app to make sure that you don't miss out on any episodes. To check out all the episodes to date, click here.