Esteban Ocon says Renault’s transformation in the three years he’d been away made its headquarters unrecognisable and he’s been impressed by the improvements made.

Ocon’s first links into F1 came through Renault’s former guise as Lotus back in 2014 when he was a junior driver and he continued to rise up the ranks making it to Renault’s reserve driver role for 2016.

But with greater opportunities offered as a Mercedes-backed driver, the Frenchman left the Renault fold officially from 2017 until he returned this year to replace Nico Hulkenberg in its line-up alongside Daniel Ricciardo.

With three years away from Enstone and Viry, Ocon says he was surprised by the developments at both its team and engines bases – to the point he didn’t recognise each place.

“I already know some of the team, but it’s changed a lot since when I left in 2016. In Formula 1, things evolve quickly and everything at Renault has grown a lot,” Ocon said. “I think it will help me settle down quickly and be ready for the first race.

“I’m very impressed. I grew up at Enstone when I was younger, and it seems a lot has changed. When I visited the factory for the first time in 2019, I couldn’t find my way around! A lot of it is new, there are more people and it’s all very good. It will give us a boost this year.”

Having made his official Renault return at the 2019 post-season Abu Dhabi test, Ocon is relishing his first on-track experience of the team’s new car, the R.S.20, at the start of pre-season testing next week.

“It’s very exciting and I can’t wait to test the new car in Barcelona,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of time to prepare, and I’m feeling ready for the challenge.

“It was beneficial having the Abu Dhabi test in December as it meant I could get used to everyone as well as experiencing last year’s Renault F1 Team car, which is the starting point for the 2020 car.”