Max Verstappen may have stolen all the headlines thanks to his quick promotion to Formula One, but there is little doubt that FIA European F3 champion Esteban Ocon was the star of the series this year.
From the moment the teenager tested with Prema Powerteam last September, the was a feeling that the championship might be coming Ocon’s way.
That he was able to deliver the title with three races to spare (and could arguably have done it earlier) while up against such competition as Verstappen and the experienced Tom Blomqvist was impressive.
After a year in Formula Renault 2.0, Ocon reveled in the similar feel delivered by the new Formula 3 engine, transmission and electronics package and the French teen made his mark early on by taking five wins in the first twelve races.
More impressive was Ocon’s consistency, which involved regular podium visits when things weren’t going right. Indeed during a “dry spell” over the fifth and sixth rounds, Ocon still took four 2nd place finishes. It was necessary – in those two rounds, Verstappen took six consecutive victories, giving some temporary life to the championship fight.
A perfect weekend at Moscow Raceway solidified his charge once again and apart from a blip at the Red Bull Ring, Ocon’s late season run was all about delivering that title as promised pre-season.
His relief at securing the championship at Imola was plain to see, but with two guest rounds of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series in the bag courtesy of Gravity Sports Management, it was clear that Ocon’s attention was already focusing very much on the future.
The only criticism that could be laid at Ocon’s door is that he is never always the best at fighting through fields, although in saying, he rarely ever had. Tests with the Lotus and Ferrari Formula One teams and a possible GP2 drive are very much deserved – in this tall teenager, Lotus have a potential star.