Ocon 'gave up sleep' and worked so hard for a return to F1

Esteban Ocon says he has worked hard to return to Formula 1 in 2020.

The Frenchman was gutted to have lost his Force India seat at the end of 2018, but after spending this year as Mercedes' reserve driver he has secured his return to the grid with Renault.

"Especially at the beginning of the year, I was afraid of being forgotten about," the 22-year-old told RMC Sport.

In response to that fear, he said he has worked harder than ever on his return - even if it meant being visibly tired at many of the grands prix.

"It's been like that all year," Ocon smiled.

"Every time the car started, I was right there.  I think that's what made the difference.

"People saw that I was there and that I wanted it.  I gave up sleep at night because I was in the simulator, flying out on Saturdays.  It pleased the bosses of the team.

"At the end of the day, Formula 1 is a small world and I'm back.  And I'm happy," he said.

And so Ocon thinks he can be a valuable addition to Renault's plans to take on the top three teams.

"I bring a new air to the team and I think with the experience I have I bring a lot," he said.

"Together, we will do the best we can to catch up with the teams ahead."

Ocon insists that he will be ready for 2020, even though he has not driven much outside of the simulator this year.

"The simulators are powerful but it's not the same as the track," he said.

"There are (pre-season) test days, but there are two less for next year which is not great because I have not driven for a while.  But it will be enough for me to be ready in Melbourne."

And he says a podium with Renault next year, and preferably at his home race at Paul Ricard, is the ultimate dream.

"We will do the tests properly, then find out where we are at the first race, and then we'll see.  The goal is to start bothering the front teams, but for now we are not quite there," said Ocon.