Ocon feeling confident heading to Melbourne

Esteban Ocon (FRA) Force India F1
© XPB 

Esteban Ocon says he is feeling confident about what Force India will be able to achieve in the first race of the 2018 season.

The team completed 711 laps in pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. That's comparable with last year, but less than anyone except Haas and McLaren in this year's test.

That wasn't a worry for Ocon, however. He contributed 372 laps to the team's total over the course of the eight days of testing, with a long-distance run crowning Friday's activity.

"To complete more than 160 laps on the final day is a good achievement and ends a really solid week of work," he said.

Force India's reduced mileage certainly hadn't been down to any issues with the car or Mercedes engine.

“The reliability of our car was one of the highlights of testing," said chief race engineer Tom McCullough. "We were able to run solidly without any significant issues.

"For a new car this is a remarkable achievement. The whole team did a great job.

“We can look back at these two weeks feeling pretty satisfied,” he added. "We were able to complete our ambitious programme and made good progress in understanding the VJM11."

Speed runs hadn't been one of the team's major objectives during testing. Ocon's best time was only 14th fastest - a lap of 1:18.967s on the final day. It was set on the hypersoft compound.

"We ran on several different tyre compounds [in the morning] and then concentrated on long runs this afternoon," the Frenchman said on Friday. "It was another solid day.

"I feel quite confident heading to Melbourne," he insisted.

Ocon started 2017 with a top ten finish in Australia, and the 21-year-old is hoping for even better this time around.

“I think we have a good idea of where we are but the real confirmation will come in Melbourne.

“We tried all our race weekend procedures today and went through the various processes we will need in Australia," he confirmed.

"It has been quite a long time since the last race in Abu Dhabi, and I am itching to go racing again. I am really looking forward to arriving in Australia!"

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