Early Renault F1 run counters 'big pre-season problem' - Esteban Ocon

Renault F1 driver Esteban Ocon

Esteban Ocon says that his early opportunity to get up to speed with Renault will help tackle the “big problem” of the reduced pre-season test schedule.

As the grand prix calendar has expanded in recent years the pre-season programme has been gradually reduced.

The number of pre-season test days was reduced from 12 to eight in 2016 while next year that figure has been revised to six, meaning each driver is likely to have only three days of running prior to the Australian Grand Prix.

Ocon was released early by 2019 employer Mercedes in order to link up with Renault for the two-day test in Abu Dhabi, and got his first taste of the R.S.19 on Tuesday.

“It's crucial and definitely it's going to help me massively,” said Ocon.

“Because you arrive to testing in February with an advantage, because you have your position fixed, you have things that you verified on track, which it's great to have the chance for that.

“For me, I didn't get much driving time this year, and to have even fewer days in February, it's a big problem, so to have these two days here it's basically a counter for the days we are lacking in February."

Tuesday’s test run marked the start of Ocon’s third spell at the outfit, having briefly been a test driver in 2014 – under its Lotus guise – and its reserve driver for the first half of 2016.

“It's a fantastic feeling, to be back,” he said. “I was so excited, I've been waiting for that day for months and finally it happened.

“It was a good first impression, the team gave me a very warm welcome, which is always very satisfying.

“Seeing some old faces, some new faces as well, which is great. And we properly started to work on all the little details, and I started to get closer and closer to the limit - it feels nice.”