Cautious Ocon took no chances in 'strange' Melbourne

© XPB 

Renault's Esteban Ocon admits living a "strange" experience in Melbourne, and one in which he did his utmost to protect himself from the coronavirus.

Drivers were preparing for a practically normal race weekend until a member of the McLaren team who tested positive for COVID-19 triggered a series of decisions that would ultimately lead to the cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix.

After sitting on the sidelines in 2019, Ocon took an abundance of precaution to ensure his presence on the grid, appearing in the paddock on media day wearing an impressive black mask to help keep himself out of harm's way.

"In all honesty, I found Australia pretty strange," Ocon said in colum appearing on Formula 1's webstite.

"I decided to wear a mask when I arrived and left the track on Thursday.

"It was well over 450 days since I last arrived at a race weekend in preparation for a race and I wanted to take every measure possible to not miss out, it’s been too long.

"I’ve trained this whole time and I wanted to be as strong as possible. So I thought it would be best to be cautious with what’s happening and be sensible for others.

"Of course, it’s out of all our hands with what’s going on, but I wanted to make sure I was doing all I could to be ready. I didn’t want anything stopping me from racing again."

As events in Melbourne unfolded amid the confusion early on Friday morning, Ocon didn't expect to wake up to the news of the race's cancellation.

"It was quite a shock to receive the news when I woke up on Friday to be leaving the race," he remembered.

"I went to sleep quite early on the Thursday night. When I woke up, I was about to go in the shower and I saw tons of messages from Cyril [Abiteboul] and many other people saying someone from McLaren had tested positive and the race was compromised.

"It was a big shock. I was half asleep, half-awake, so it was tricky to fully understand the situation.

"Of course, Australia for round one is when you see what everyone has to offer, including yourselves, but quietly, I thought we could have done well there.

"We arrived there feeling confident and the engineers with experience had a good feeling with how we were going to perform. I guess, we’ll have to wait and see now!"

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