Ocon felt his F1 career was 'over' if he failed to get Renault seat

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Esteban Ocon felt his Formula 1 career would be "over" if he didn't get the seat at Renault for 2020.

Despite his clear talent, the Frenchman found himself off the grid last year, after being ousted at Racing Point for Lance Stroll to join his father's new asset at the end of 2018.

However, Ocon's situation could have been very different had Renault not broken an agreement they made with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff by signing Daniel Ricciardo from Red Bull instead.

And it was the memories of that which led him to be much more active in talks with the Enstone team last summer.

“I was massively involved compared to the year before,” admitted Ocon, speaking to Formula1.com in Australia.

“There was no chance I wasn’t going to be involved. We didn’t want to make the same mistake again.

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"I had chats with Alain [Prost, Renault ambassador] and Cyril [Abiteboul, Renault team principal]. I said ‘OK, this time we have to be clear, we need more communication than we had in 2018 because if it happens again, it’s over for me.

"Through a lack of communication and lack of understanding from one side to another, we just missed out [on a Renault seat in 2019]. It was very disappointing, it was one of the hardest years but it made us stronger and we didn’t do the same mistake.”

Indeed, after the summer break, it was confirmed Ocon would replace Nico Hulkenberg for this season and, before his first race back in Australia was cancelled due to the coronavirus, his excitement to be back racing was clear.

"Yeah definitely, it's been a long time but we're finally ending that time. I feel ready, I just can't wait, it's fantastic," he said.

"[Compared to Abu Dhabi 2018, I feel] very different, a lot more complete, I would say, as a driver, I know a lot more about my environment and how everything is happening in Formula 1.

"Of course it's totally different because I'm kind of with a new team for me, a new teammate, everything is kind of new but I'm settling in quite well and I feel totally relaxed and ready to go."

Ocon is also brushing off any concerns of race rustiness by setting himself high targets for 2020.

“A good year for me would be to start near Daniel [Ricciardo], I see him as one of the best,” he says.

“I’m not putting myself under any pressure, but starting near him and then improving during the year and try and get closer to him [is the aim] because I didn’t race for a year, there’s a bit of time for me to get back in.

"I want to score points every race and score a podium at some point.”