Ocon recalls disappointment of Verstappen F1 move after European F3 title duel

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Esteban Ocon has recalled his disappointment at Max Verstappen's Formula 1 jump following their European F3 title duel in 2014.

 It's no secret that the two drivers have a long history together throughout their racing careers, coming to blows in every series where they have both competed, whether it be karting, European F3 and even F1.

But while Verstappen has always had the big hoopla surrounding him and his potential, it is often forgotten that Ocon actually beat the Dutchman during that super competitive F3 season.

“After a few races, the competitive rivalry returned,” the Frenchman wrote in his Formula1.com column reflecting on that championship.

“Max started to become strong and he was challenging me for wins and suddenly he was the guy to beat.

“We had a thing called the ‘triple record’ where you would win all the races in a weekend.

“He [Verstappen] did that [twice at Spa and the Norisring] and then I did it in Moscow at the following round!

“We were fighting to get that all the time. In that Moscow race, he came close to beating me and we banged wheels a couple of times, just like the old karting days."

After that year their paths were very different, Ocon went to GP3 and won that title too in 2015 but wouldn't get his F1 chance until joining the Mercedes junior program and later Manor midway through 2016

Verstappen's rise though was sky-rocketed as he joined the Red Bull stable during the European F3 season in 2014 and jumped straight to F1 at Toro Rosso the following year.

“I won the title in Formula 3 but the tough moment for me was that Max had signed a deal to race Formula 1. Well done to him, definitely, but when I saw the news it was difficult to swallow," Ocon conceded.

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“He was third in the championship; I was winning, and I didn’t have a seat in any category at that time.

“I did a few tests in GP2, but there was nothing really confirmed. The Lotus F1 junior programme had difficulties at the time and I wasn’t going anywhere, so it was quite a challenging moment.

“But I used that as motivation. I knew I had to work hard and keep on top of the junior categories if I was to make it to Formula 1

“It was my ultimate target; not necessarily wanting to face Max again, but rather joining him in Formula 1.”

Now that Ocon is there, it would be great to see him and Verstappen go at it once again, because if one man knows how to beat the Dutchman, it's Esteban.