Esteban Ocon says he will not apply unnecessary pressure to his shoulders ahead of his much anticipated Formula 1 debut at the Belgian Grand Prix, even if he admits the comparisons to Michael Schumacher are clear.
The Frenchman, who has completed a series of FP1 sessions with Renault and is tipped for a full-time drive with the manufacturer in 2017, will make his F1 debut with Manor Racing at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend alongside fellow Mercedes protégé Pascal Wehrlein.
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Facing the media for the first time in Manor colours today, Ocon's promotion comes 25 years to the day Schumacher made his F1 race debut at the same venue with Jordan. At the time Schumacher was a Mercedes junior and would be quickly snapped up by Benetton (whom would go on to become Renault)
Despite the similarities, Ocon has no interest in devoting time to the romantic Schumacher comparisons, insisting he is merely focused on his own job.
“Michael is one of my idols so for sure if I have only half of his career already I would be more than happy.”
“I think I have to do a good job, thinking about that will put some pressure that is not needed. I mean to get to the level of Michael, it's really, really high so no I need to focus on myself. It's great for me to start where he started for sure, but I need to focus on myself and on the job I have to do.”
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Having already driven both Renault and Mercedes machinery this year, Ocon is confident he can get up to speed and impress prospective employers for the 2017 season.
“I can bring a few things from the experience I had, I hope I will bring something good and that's how experience works. You bring things of course to the team you are driving.
“I think there is plenty of practice and tyres to get up to speed so I hope to be up to speed in qualifying. I need to learn as much as I can of what Pascal [Wehrlein] is doing. He's a quick driver, he's been really quick since the beginning of the season so I need to learn as much as I can from him, then we will see how it goes in qualifying.”
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