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Rookie Ocon steers clear of Schumacher parallels

26 Aug 2016, 00:02 IST

By Abhishek and Takle

SPA FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium, Aug 25 (Reuters) - French teenager Esteban Ocon steered clear of drawing parallels between his Formula One debut in Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix and that of boyhood idol Michael Schumacher.

Like the 19-year-old, who will be driving for Manor in place of cash-strapped Indonesian Rio Haryanto, Schumacher made his first appearance at Spa in 1991.

"I have to do a good job, thinking about that (comparison) will put some pressure that is not needed," Ocon told reporters on Thursday, 25 years to the day since the German made his Grand Prix debut with the Jordan team.

"It's great for me to start where he started, for sure, but I need to focus on myself and on the job I have to do."

While there are similarities between their two debuts, most notably over the venue and from the fact both were Mercedes-backed drivers at the time of their maiden races, there are significant differences too.

Schumacher's manager famously told team principal Eddie Jordan that the German had previously raced at Spa, when his only experience of the track had been a handful of laps on a bicycle.

Ocon won at the daunting 7km layout in his GP3 career before being forced to forfeit the victory after a post-race penalty.

Schumacher also had limited experience of a Formula One car, only driving the Jordan in a hurriedly-arranged test at Silverstone, while Ocon has had a significant amount of track time.

The 2014 F3 and reigning GP3 champion has tested for Mercedes and drove in the opening practice session at the last three races for Renault, to whom he was on loan as reserve.

Ocon will be hoping to make it a lot further on Sunday than Schumacher whose debut did not last a lap.

"I feel like I've had the best preparation I could get," said the teenager who will partner fellow Mercedes-backed German Pascal Wehrlein.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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