Saturday, 29 december 2018, 06:31 , by Matthew Scott
Esteban Ocon says he met Mercedes' target to improve his qualifying record in 2018, although it was not enough to earn him a seat on the 2019 grid. Ocon will spend next season as Mercedes' reserve driver after his Force India seat was taken by Lance Stroll and a likely Renault move blocked by Daniel Ricciardo.
Ocon outqualified teammate Sergio Perez 16 times in 2018, but finished four places and 13 points below the Mexican in the standings.
The Frenchman will be a likely candidate for a 2020 Mercedes drove if Valtteri Bottas cannot imprve upon his 2018 form next season and Ocon seems confident, having met his milestones set by Toto Wolff.
"It is my target to win the championship, and we will see how the future evolves, but I guess Mercedes wanted to see that their driver could perform well in qualifying," Ocon told Motorsport.
"In any kind of racing it's important to start ahead, when we have aero like this it's very hard to pass. It's a big help and I'm pretty happy with my improvement.
"I think qualifying I have improved the most, how to build up the weekend.
"That's where I've been the strongest this year, I've qualified sixth, seventh, eighth many times this season. I think that's good, and I'm pretty pleased with that.
"I find it more than tiny, how I've improved in qualifying.
"The race pace, I had a pretty solid base from the beginning when I was racing in F1, but I've learned in F1 if you don't start where the car deserves to be it's difficult to catch back in the races.
"I can also compare to my team-mate. I think he's pretty experienced, he's also improving over the years but less than a rookie.
"Compared to him I think I'm a lot stronger than last year."