Esteban Ocon fears he'll be forgotten if he's not in the paddock
Mercedes reserve driver Esteban Ocon says he fears he'll be forgotten and therefore insists on being in the Formula 1 paddock each weekend to remain visible.
The Frenchman lost his Racing Point seat at the end of last year but secured a reserve role with Mercedes, though his main role is to conduct simulator testing at the team's Brackley base, but he also attends race weekends with the team and revealed that it was his choice despite the intense schedule and lack of sleep.
This is because he fears he'll be forgotten if he doesn't remain visible in the paddock and thus reduce his chances of securing a seat for 2020.
"I insisted I wanted to be at the track [each weekend]," he told the official Formula 1 website. "I don’t want to be working at the sim and not come over.
"The guys said 'yeah, it’s going to be hard'. 'I said yeah I agree but that’s the way I want to do it'. Even if I don’t sleep, I want to be at the track. It’s hard. It’s definitely hard. But it’s alright. There’s much worse in life. And I can sleep early on Saturday night and get rested for Sunday.
"If you’re not at the track, people will forget you," he added. "Our target is to be back in F1. My only goal is to be in F1. Of course, if it doesn’t work next year, I will have to look at something else. But it’s not the target.
"This is also the reason why I’m staying here every race. I want to stick to F1, stick to the team, so that no one forgets me."
Speculation suggests Ocon is close to agreeing a deal with Renault for 2020, which would see him replace Nico Hulkenberg, with Valtteri Bottas retaining his seat alongside Lewis Hamilton.
Should that happen, the 22-year-old insists he'll get up to speed quickly, but admits a second year on the sidelines could be harder to overcome.
"The winter tests should be enough. I think in one year, the changes are not massive," he said, "[but] if you miss two years, it’s a big step."