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Daniel Ricciardo vs Esteban Ocon: Epic F1 team-mate battle brewing at Renault

Renault's new driver pairing - Ocon and Ricciardo
Modified 24 Feb 2020, 14:09 IST

With less than a month left for the season to start, Mercedes look the favourites to clinch both the titles again after a dominant display during the first half of the pre-season testing. Red Bull with their Honda-powered engine look to be Mercedes' biggest challengers for the season. Ferrari is having a poor run, with the data during the first half of the pre-season testing having not looked encouraging. While in the midfield, Alfa Romeo, McLaren and Racing Point have had a good first half of the testing season.

Renault with their new driver pairing is getting ready for a make or break season after struggling over the past few years with engine issues. It's going to be interesting to watch two very competitive drivers in Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon going head to head in the same Renault machinery.

Ricciardo has had a history racing against a young competitive driver when he raced against Max Verstappen during his time at Red Bull. The pair were given the freedom to race each other and were involved in a crash at Baku in 2018. Both drivers blamed each other for the mistake. It was really competitive between the two and Ricciardo was quite miffed that the entire team had their focus on the Dutchman to become the youngest World Champion, while his interests were neglected.

The Baku crash between Verstappen and Ricciardo
The Baku crash between Verstappen and Ricciardo

The Australian who eventually left Red Bull to join the French team Renault convincingly out performed his teammate Nico Hulkenberg last season. But it's going to be quite different when the former Red Bull driver will go against a young Esteban Ocon.

Ocon formerly drove for Force India (now Racing Point F1) and spent last season as a reserve driver for Mercedes before he was announced as a Renault driver replacing Nico Hulkenberg. The French driver too has a history of crashes with a teammate. He tangled with his teammate Sergio 'Checo' Perez at Baku in 2017 and then at Singapore in 2018 before team principal Otmar Szafnauer prohibited them to race each other. Ocon also had an infamous fight with Ricciardo's former teammate Verstappen in the paddock after trying to unlap himself, he robbed Verstappen of a victory in Brazil.

Ocon and Sergio Perez have a history of being difficult, sparring team-mates to each other
Ocon and Sergio Perez have a history of being difficult, sparring team-mates to each other

With Ricciardo racing against Ocon, Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul will hope that the pair won't create more problems than he and his team already have. Both are very talented drivers and both are very under-rated. Ocon is as talented as the likes of Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc on the grid while Ricciardo is unlucky not to have a competitive car to win the World Championship. Had he been racing against Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes, he would have caused the 6-time World Champion more problems than Valtteri Bottas.

Ocon and Ricciardo might be called 'teammates' but actually they are each other's biggest rivals. In Formula1 nobody likes to get beaten by their teammate and with the competitiveness that these two drivers have in each other, it is really going to be an epic intra-team driver battle at Renault in 2020.


Also see | F1: 5 major takeaways from the opening pre-season test

Published 24 Feb 2020, 14:09 IST
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