Esteban Ocon is satisfied with the “very strong” progress he made over the 2020 season as he returned to the Formula 1 grid with Renault.

Following a year on the F1 sidelines in 2019, Ocon made his comeback with the French manufacturer this season and finished 12th in the standings in what was a mixed campaign.

The Frenchman was comprehensively beaten by teammate Daniel Ricciardo in both qualifying and the races, but ended the year strongly with a streak of points finishes that included a maiden podium with second place at the penultimate round in Bahrain.

Overall, Ocon believes he can take plenty of positives from what he felt was a solid season after initially struggling to get back up to speed.

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“Overall the progress has been very strong, I am pretty happy with how I have ended the season in terms of pace, performance, and how we are working together with the team,” he explained.

“That was a lot stronger than it has been to start with, and I feel I have gained some performance and confidence in the car and that’s very good. We will make sure we are on top of the detail next year and that we are ready.”

While he was left disappointed that Renault was beaten to third place in the constructors’ championship, ultimately finishing fifth behind McLaren and Racing Point, Ocon is confident that his team will be in a “pretty strong position” when it returns as the rebranded Alpine squad with new signing Fernando Alonso next year.

“It is a bit of a shame that we missed out on third place in the constructors championship, but there is a lot of positives to take on board this year, and things that we did not do perfectly right as well,” Ocon said.

“So we will have a way of working for next year, but taking the positives, and canceling the negatives, we should be in a strong position next year.”

Ocon also revealed his plans for the winter break, adding that he is wary of taking precautionary measures to ensure he does not lose valuable training time by contracting COVID-19 during the off-season.

“For sure there is going to be a high period of training, I need to catch the weight that I have lost during the season, and get my fitness level back up again,” he said.

“But it is a bit tricky to travel at the moment in Europe. It is tricky to drop the precautions because we can’t really do that, we will not be tested as much but we do not want to get sick and lose 15 days and feel unwell.

“So hopefully a good Christmas with the family, and easy New Year really because there is nothing to do, and then back to work training. But I do not know how or where for the moment, I will have to give it some thought.”