Esteban Ocon insists his 2019 was one of the most taxing seasons of his career in his role as a reserve and simulator driver for Mercedes, even though he was not part of the Formula 1 grid.
After Lance Stroll took his place at Racing Point following Lawrence Stroll’s takeover, Ocon suddenly found himself without a team for 2020, with teams reportedly not keen on developing someone who was ultimately a Mercedes driver due to his link with the Silver Arrows academy.
He was retained as a reserve by Mercedes, with the thinking being he could eventually replace Valtteri Bottas. That didn’t happen, and Ocon was eventually allowed out of his Mercedes obligations to sign for Renault.
It will be a return to normality for the Frenchman after the rigours of 2019, which he says “destroyed” him.
"I mean, the season I had was very very demanding," Ocon said.
"I was not sleeping for two days [at a time], it was quite crazy - the amount of travel I was doing, and the amount of hours I was doing in the simulator and then travelling to track, doing stuff for Mercedes. They used me well but a lot.
GPFans is a multi-platform, multi-language brand dedicated to Formula One coverage. We bring you all the ins and outs of the sport, 24/7, everything from up-to-the-minute news and features to the latest viral stories and clips.
We believe that a new generation of exciting, outspoken drivers will make F1 more popular than ever before, and we want to give our users access to as much of their heroes as possible, on and off the track. From Lewis Hamilton to Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo to Sebastian Vettel, we provide in-depth analysis of every every Grand Prix in the season, from Australia to Abu Dhabi.
With Formula One under the new ownership of Liberty Media, how the sport is being covered is evolving, and GPFans will look to be at the heart of this progression into new media, as one of the fastest-growing sites covering the king of motorsports.