Ocon eyeing opportunity to ‘shake things up’ in Abu Dhabi

Force India’s Esteban Ocon is looking to bounce back at Abu Dhabi after his disappointment last time out in Brazil.

Ocon failed to finish a race for the first time in his Formula 1 career at Interlagos. He was involved in a lap 1 collision with Romain Grosjean’s Haas, which left Ocon too badly damaged to continue.

But the French driver is putting such thoughts behind him as he heads to the final race of the 2017 season this weekend.

“It’s been a successful season,” he said this week. “I hope we can finish it in style with a big result.

“This season went by so quickly,” he added. “It’s unbelievable to think we’re already at the final race of the season. It feels like yesterday that we were in Australia!

“The Abu Dhabi weekend is always special,” he continued. “Racing at night creates such a nice atmosphere.

“I have great memories from Yas Marina: this is where I was crowned GP3 champion in 2015 and where I drove my first FP1 session in Formula 1.

“I have done so much testing around there, and I like the place.

“The two long straights are good opportunities to overtake,” he pointed out. “You can use the first to get really close to the car in front and make the move on the second.

“There are opportunities to shake the order up, so the race can be quite exciting.”

With fourth place in the constructors championship already secured, Force India goes into the final race of the year with nothing left to prove.

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“Whatever happens in Abu Dhabi this weekend, 2017 has already been our most successful season to date,” declared team owner and principal Vijay Mallya.

“With fourth place secure, it’s nice to end the season free from pressure,” he said. “I can’t stress just how proud I am of our achievements.

“Claiming fourth place in the world championship for two consecutive years doesn’t happen by accident,” he noted.

“I have to pay tribute to each and every one of the 400 staff who played their part in making it possible.

“[Now] the focus is firmly on 2018 and we will continue experimenting with different things on the car this weekend. We will also continue running George Russell in Friday practice.

“We have usually been competitive in Abu Dhabi. It’s important to end the season well before the start of a busy winter finalising a new car for 2018.”

Like the rest of the team, Ocon will be hard at work over the winter preparing for the next campaign.

“I want to be ready for next season, when the cars are likely to go even faster,” he explained.

“After Abu Dhabi, it’s not really holidays. It’s back to training, back to the mountains for almost two months.

“It’ll be nice to spend some time with family and friends around Christmas and New Year. But other than that, my focus is on getting ready physically and spending time at the factory.”

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