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F1 Belgian GP: Ocon looks to Verstappen ahead of F1 debut

Esteban Ocon will reconvene his battle with former European F3 rival Max Verstappen when he makes his F1 debut at Manor this weekend.
Esteban Ocon admits he will be using Max Verstappen as a reference point ahead of his much anticipated Formula 1 debut at the Belgian Grand Prix for Manor Racing.

The Mercedes junior development driver and Renault reserve driver will step into a full-time race seat for the remainder of the 2016 season after being called up to replace Rio Haryanto at Manor Racing.

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Considered one of F1's brightest prospects, Ocon's promotion is seen as a trial for both Mercedes and Renault ahead of a potential race deal in 2017, with many drawing comparisons with Max Verstappen, whom he beat to the European F3 title in 2014.

With this in mind, Ocon says Verstappen is inevitably a marker for him and is excited by the prospect of going wheel-to-wheel with the Dutchman again.

“I hope to have some more fights with him in the future and yeah, that's what I am working for. He is the reference because I was racing with him and at the end I won the title but he was a tough guy to beat, we had some great fights and he went through and he did really good in F1 so for sure he's a reference and I hope to do even better than him.”

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With Ocon arriving in F1 amidst a significant amount of hype, Verstappen says the 19 year-old needn't worry about what factor age may play.

“I think in the end it doesn't really matter where you come from as long as you do a good job,” the Red Bull driver said. “Once you're in Formula One it's up to yourself to show that you're ready. I don't think it has to be in F3 or GP3. Once you go to Formula One you have to show it.

“Just jump in the car and go out and drive as fast as you can.”

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