For the next few weeks, as we await the return of racing, Motorsport Week is delving into the archives to search out the first time that our grid of 2020 F1 racers stepped into top-level machinery in a public forum.
Esteban Ocon has already had an eclectic career given that he is still just 23 years old.
Still awaiting his Renault Formula 1 debut he has had a year as Mercedes’ reserve driver (having been on its junior roster), spent two years racing for Force India, had half a campaign pluckily fighting for Manor, which came off the back of successive titles in Formula 3 and GP3.
But before beginning a long-term relationship (in motorsport terms) with Mercedes he was a member of the Lotus F1 Junior Team, courtesy of his association with Gravity Sports Management.
By the tail-end of 2014 Ocon had already sampled Lotus’ older Formula 1 machinery but a chance to get behind the wheel of a contemporary car came at the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Ocon, a few weeks after turning 18, became one of the youngest drivers to participate in a grand prix session when he tried the twin-tusked Lotus E22 at the Yas Marina Circuit, managing 29 laps in FP1.
Ocon remained at the circuit for the post-race test, gaining more experience, but a proposed 2015 reserve deal never materialised and Mercedes opted to take the youngster under its wing…