Lotus F1 protégé Esteban Ocon admits that he doesn't know what he will be doing next year, despite two positive outings with the Enstone team in recent days.
The French youngster, who claimed this year's FIA European F3 title ahead of Max Verstappen, got his first taste of an F1 weekend when he took part in FP1 at Yas Marina on Friday, and followed that up with a run in the post-season test at the same venue. However, even though he says that team were pleased with his contribution on and off the track, he insists that he knows little of where he will end up next year.
“I don't know yet - the only thing I do know is that I am testing GP2 for three days now,” he said, referring to the feeder series' own Abu Dhabi session, “Who knows? I don't know what will happen next year, I don't know what could happen the following year. I have no idea – it's their job. I'm focused on my part of the job - on the track - and I'll stay focused on that.”
Whilst he tacitly admits that a role with the F1 team that has supported him since Formula Renault would be a dream opportunity, Ocon acknowledges that another year at a lower level is more likely.
“GP2 would be normal next year, but I don't know, it hasn't been finalised yet,” he said, “I don't know how things will change [in F1], with third cars or whatever. When I drive [anything] I am happy, but I don't decide where I will drive. GP2 is a good series and World Series is a good series…”
Ocon's path to an immediate F1 seat is blocked by Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado, both of whom have already been signed by Lotus ahead of its first Mercedes-powered campaign in 2015, but he remains hopeful after claiming to have made a swift adaptation to the top flight.
“It was very good, i enjoyed it,” he said of his second outing, as part of the group test, “It was good to have got some experience and I feel more used to everything now. When you go with some experience of an F1 car, it's always easier. I am more used to the car and have more time to discover the limits now.”
Asked how the E22 compared to his regular F3 mount, Ocon explained that he had been expecting more of contrast before getting used to the extra power.
“I was expecting [a big shock from the speed difference] but, after the first lap, I was adapting very quickly and getting used to it,” he revealed, “I think F3 is a really good school because it is very fast in the corners, and the old version of F1 is just F3 with more power. This [2014 car] is a bit different, more difficult to drive, less grip, faster on the straights – so, for sure, it's a different driving style and everything.”
He remained coy about exactly what he was doing for Lotus at the test, but admitted that a technical issue had cut short his final run after only 34 laps.
“It was a normal programme developing the car, preparing for next year, testing parts for next year,” he confirmed, “The team is already thinking about next year and it was all about that.
“The car felt a bit different to Friday [at the grand prix], but not a lot. Maybe I was more on the limit, but it was probably down to conditions and changes made to the car.
“We had a problem and couldn't really complete all of the programme that was planned, but we still did some good things and it was a good test, so I am happy about that. The team are really happy with what I said and what I did, with my driving and my feedback – and, once they are happy, I am happy too.”