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One year on, Ocon returns to milestone venue

Esteban Ocon, Force India, Hungarian Grand Prix
© XPB 

The Belgian GP at Spa was where it all started for Esteban Ocon a year ago, when the French driver made his grand F1 debut with Manor.

Ocon's track record since has been nothing short of remarkable. Manor's demise opened an opportunity at Force India for 2017, and the French driver has made the most of it so far, finishing in the top ten at every single venue this season except Monaco.

But a return to Spa will likely revive a few good memories for the 20-year-old although, oddly, the Belgian track isn't one of his favourites.

"I had a great summer holiday in the south of Spain," says Ocon in Force India's preview.

"My batteries are fully recharged and I’m looking forward to getting back in the car. It’s now a year for me as a Formula One driver and the time has gone by really quickly. So I’m no longer a rookie!

"Spa is where I made my debut last year. It’s a great track, but it’s not necessarily one of my favourites.

"There are some special corners, especially through sector two, which has a nice rhythm. It’s a circuit where you have to be totally at one with the car because you need to be really committed through the high-speed corners."

With its wide variety of corners and overtaking spots, Spa will likely unlock the Pink Panthers' incisive ways, come rain or come shine.

"Spa is usually a good track for racing because it’s easier to overtake there compared to some other tracks.

"There’s also the famous Spa weather which brings unpredictability. I don’t mind if it rains because it could bring some more opportunities our way.

"I think we can be competitive this weekend regardless of whether it’s dry or wet. The layout of the track should suit our car quite well.

"Everybody loves driving through Eau Rouge and it’s certainly the most famous part of the lap. In these cars it will be an amazing experience.

"Maybe the first lap of the race will be a bit of a challenge, but after that I think we should be able to take it easily flat."

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