In his first full season in the sport, Esteban Ocon caught the eye of fans and Formula One insiders alike with a long string of confident, consistent performances that belie his young age.
The Frenchman has set himself up as one of the growing talents of Formula One and great expectations are placed on his sophomore year with Sahara Force India.
Having started karting at the age of four, Esteban claimed the first major piece of silverware in 2007 – the French Minime Championship. The winning streak continued in 2008, as the young Norman won the French Cadet Championship, the final accolade before making the jump to international racing. A French KF3 title and second place in the WSK Euro Series followed, marking the end of a successful karting career.
The switch to single-seaters saw Esteban balance Eurocup and Alps Formula Renault 2.0 campaigns in 2012, claiming podiums in both, before a switch to ART Junior Team for 2013 resulted in third place in the Eurocup standings.
Following a first appearance in the famous Macau Grand Prix, the Frenchman made the jump to Formula 3 in 2014. Racing for Prema Powerteam, the season proved a huge success, Esteban winning the title with a round to spare after leading the standings for the entire campaign. Signed up to the Mercedes AMG F1 junior programme, the year saw Esteban also get his first taste of Formula One, taking part in Free Practice with Lotus at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Continuing his lightning-quick progression in the sport, 2015 brought a promotion to the GP3 Series with ART Grand Prix: against a strong field, Esteban claimed one win on the way to the championship. The talented youngster was also introduced to Sahara Force India for the first time, driving in the Barcelona in-season test and impressing with his professional attitude and natural speed.
The 2016 season initially seemed to be one of transition for Esteban, who switched to the challenge of DTM as part of his Mercedes affiliation. However, halfway through the year, the big break came in the form of a call-up to Manor to compete in the remainder of the Formula One season. Despite an uncompetitive car he had never tried before, the Frenchman showed moments of class, nearly scoring his debut points in the rain-affected Brazilian Grand Prix.
The move to Sahara Force India allowed Esteban to have a car enabling him to display his innate class, contributing to the growth of the team and allowing him to fight at the sharp end of the field. A run of points finishes at the start of the season eased the Frenchman into the team and culminated with fifth place in Spain, his best result to date.
Consistent and quick, Esteban set up a mouth-watering challenge with team-mate Sergio Perez and went on to write his name in the history books with an unbroken 27-race finishing streak which only ended in Brazil, when he was the faultless victim of a first-lap collision. A brilliant first full season in the sport, with 87 points to his name, will have done lots for the confidence of the likeable Frenchman as he starts his second season with Sahara Force India.