Colton Herta's Indy Lights debut was the top story of the weekend in MRTI. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

MRTI: St. Petersburg weekend digest

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With six races to kick off the new Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires season, there was always going to be an overload of story lines that emerged from the streets of St. Petersburg.

And indeed, there was a heavy magnitude of incredible moments that played themselves out the last few days.

HERTAMANIA 2.0 IS FOR REAL

I’ll admit to having had only a casual following of Colton Herta during his stint in Europe the last couple seasons, not because I didn’t think he was good, but when you cover double digit series on a regular basis it’s hard to put EuroFormula Open and F4 with Carlin on your full-time radar. But knowing that he’d won races overseas against what is always a stacked field was always going to be an impressive feat, particularly when you consider the Californian moved overseas and raced there at 14 and 15 years old.

Rise up, young man. This is Colton Herta, and at 16, his future is bright. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Testing, too, can always be a bit of a red herring coming into a new season because of different test plans, programs and the occasional fast lap “glory run” for promotional purposes. That Herta ended fastest from the only official day of preseason testing in his No. 98 Deltro Energy Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing Dallara IL-15 Mazda at Homestead-Miami Speedway was nice and great to see, especially considering he’s working with talented engineer Doug Zister. But would it translate onto the bumpy, if repaved, streets of St. Petersburg, a place as far away on setup from Homestead’s infield road course as the miles it takes to get between the two in this long state? That was always the question going in.

But good lord, if Bryan’s son – “HertaMania 2.0” – is this good, this early in his career, the sky is the limit for him. He’s 16 now and turns 17 later this month, but showed the combination of aggression, tenacity and poise well beyond his years, and was so cool as a cucumber outside the cockpit even as he ran the gamut of interviews during the weekend that could have easily distracted him.

Telitz (9) won Saturday but Herta’s (98, white text rear wing) moves were impressive. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Cool as it was to see Aaron Telitz, another fascinating and talented young American walk away with Indy Lights race one on Saturday, it was Herta’s passing demonstrations into Turn 1 that dazzled in arguably one of the best Indy Lights races since the introduction of the new car. Making several moves on Kyle Kaiser (Lap 5), Shelby Blackstock (Lap 20), and Neil Alberico (Lap 31, after nearly colliding on Lap 26), Herta was the passing star of the race.

“I guess push-to-pass worked!” Herta deadpanned with a wit you’d expect of a 26-year-old, not 16. “It was a bit of an unknown going from Homestead. It performed great.

“That one on Neil… oh that was close. It took my nose nipple off a little bit. It was close, but he left me room and saw me coming. We both kind of locked up and went a little wide, so we avoided big contact.”

Alberico, who drives for Carlin and is supported by Rising Star Racing, had to tip his cap on the move to the fellow Californian, on a day when SoCal just edged NorCal.

“He had a lot more pace at end of the race,” Alberico said. “Getting a podium after starting mid-pack would be a good result. The smartest guy will win this championship. Colton earned second place today.”

Herta’s win in race two (airs March 18 on NBCSN) allowed him to showcase his defending, rather than overtaking, level of race craft. He defended against the aggressive but determined Santiago Urrutia on multiple occasions, to complete the dream debut weekend, and lead the points in the process.

At 13 in 2013, Herta won the Pacific F1600 championship driving for PR1/BHA with Curb-Agajanian and won 10 of 15 races, so his win Sunday was his first win on North American soil since that time. It capped off a week where Herta tossed out the first pitch at a New York Yankees spring training game on Tuesday and then ended on top Sunday morning.

Herta (center) and the Steinbrenners. George Michael Steinbrenner IV is to Herta’s immediate left. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

“We had the whole Steinbrenner family that all came out today. Hank’s even out here. It was great to have the team rooting for us,” he said.

George Michael Steinbrenner IV, Steinbrenner Racing principal added, “It really couldn’t have aligned any better. It’s very satisfying for me. Knowing Colton for so long, I’ve known how good he could be.”

SOUL RED SATURDAY IN ST. PETE

Askew, Telitz and Martin. Photo: Mazda Motorsports

The running joke that permeated during the Mazda Road to Indy offseason was that the three Mazda scholarship drivers, Telitz, Anthony Martin and Oliver Askew, had to tactfully and carefully manage to note they were driving but couldn’t say with which team until Mazda formally confirmed it. At one point, Telitz – who’d been linked to Belardi Auto Racing since September – was listed as driving with “Team Real Big Secret” and the laughs followed.

Laughs turned to straight-up smiles and jubilation on Saturday when all three of the scholarship drivers, having been formally confirmed with Belardi (Telitz in Indy Lights) and Cape Motorsports (Martin in Pro Mazda, Askew in USF2000) won on the same day, at the same track, in their debuts in the respective series.

Martin won the first Pro Mazda race of the weekend, with Askew then winning the second USF2000 race of the weekend. Once Telitz started from pole and survived a four-wide passing attempt off the start into Turn 1 in the Indy Lights race, the stage was set for the “Soul Red Saturday” sweep.

“I mean honestly this feels a little bit unreal,” said Telitz, the Wisconsinite who at 25 is one of the older but savvier and funniest drivers in the Mazda Road to Indy. “I knew Belardi cars were fast. But to actually do it, qualify on pole, lead the most laps and win by 11 seconds or something, it is seriously awesome. I can’t explain exactly what this means. Huge thanks to Mazda for having the scholarship to move up!”

Askew’s win came after running second in the morning race, where he pressured Robert Megennis but didn’t force the issue against the talented teenager. “I keep telling myself, it’s all about points this weekend. So many guys come out of here with a huge deficit,” he said then. After the win, Askew was reflective and effusive with praise: “I thought if I could come out second, that would be great. But that caution came out and it threw the plan out the window. I reacted to whatever was happening and I was off from there.”

Martin had the broom at Mid-Ohio in USF2000 last year and had it this weekend in Pro Mazda. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Martin, who’d traditionally struggled at St. Petersburg in USF2000, completed the only weekend sweep for the MRTI this weekend in Pro Mazda. The Australian, now back in a single-car effort after having two teammates last year, has the sole focus on him and impressed straightaway.

“Yeah I knew the pressure was on, with St. Pete as the first race of the year,” he said. “As a team we were really pushed to set a mark for everyone involved. We’ve shown what we’re gonna do. We’re not gonna play around. The Soul Red boys… man it proves what Mazda is doing, is working. It gives me the confidence when people believe in me. This weekend is the hardest I’ve ever pushed in my life.”

USF2000’s DAILY DOUBLE, TATUUS USF-17 DEBUT

Race 2 start for USF2000. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

If one was to grade the debut of the new Tatuus USF-17 for Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, a B to B-plus would be a fair assessment. The car raced very well, particularly in the first race of the day held Saturday morning when drivers raced smart and kept the 30-minute affair caution-free, and then continued to do well in race two on Saturday. The downgrade from a firm A comes with the number of accidents in practice that occurred, which while understandable given it’s inexperienced drivers and a street course, quickly added up to make a good weekend for the spare parts department.

It was interesting to talk to two of the drivers who raced the previous generation Van Diemen and continued this year, in Megennis who won race one and Parker Thompson, who had pole for race two in his Exclusive Autosport entry but made a mistake at Turn 1 that opened the door for Askew, ultimately ending third.

“As a new team we have brand new mechanics and a lot of new components,” explained Thompson, out of Red Deer, Alberta. “The team handled it really well. Exclusive gave me a car that could have won and I threw it away. But I have to hold my head high. Myself and team have worked to learn everything. Pabst and Cape have been to this track before. We haven’t. And we had a car, a new car, good to win first race… so I guarantee I’ll work harder than ever to repay them.”

Megennis scored both his and Team Pelfrey’s first USF2000 win in St. Petersburg. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Added Megennis, who drives for Team Pelfrey: “It’s different. I had the aero wash being behind people. Out front, it was a different experience! This car is a lot more comfortable to drive. It’s a lot more fun, it’s not easier, and you have to push it harder, it’s a lot more enjoyable and exciting.

“I tried to approach it exactly like last year. But now, you can show up at the weekends ahead. You know the track, you know the setup direction, and you know how the races work. Being a second-year driver makes a lot of difference.”

BACK FROM BREAK, AND BACK TO A NEW BREAK IN PRO MAZDA

With a reduced schedule, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires series races only six weekends this season. The gap between St. Petersburg and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course is the longest gap this season, a full two months.

So what do you do to stay sharp in that time? We asked the podium finishers this weekend what their game plan was.

Franzoni (left), Martin (center) and Fischer (right) were podium both days, flanked by the Team Cooper Tire girls. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

“I think I’ll be in Indy for the break. It’s a bit of a break but we may be doing some testing,” said Martin.

“This break will be really good for us,” said Victor Franzoni, who concluded a late deal to race with Juncos Racing this season. “We already had a great result there in a test. And we tested together, so they know the setup for me. I think there, it will decide our championship! Here, was more to meet each other and start the work.”

“It is a big break,” added TJ Fischer, who delivered two-time defending champions Team Pelfrey both his and its first two podiums of 2017. “We don’t have Barber – which is somewhat unfortunate. But it makes every weekend more powerful, and means more in the championship. In the little break we have, we have one or two days of testing, so it’s about getting the rhythm down. From there you have to stay mentally in the game.”

NEWS AND NOTES

Urrutia’s “Red 5.” Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
  • In Indy Lights, keen-eyed observers will have spotted Urrutia’s No. 5 Belardi car with Arrow signage on the sidepods this weekend. Arrow Electronics is a sponsor of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Verizon IndyCar Series program. The Uruguayan was gutted to have been taken out by Dalton Kellett in race one, but bounced back with second in race two.
  • Kyle Kaiser had a respectable but not sterling weekend for Juncos Racing with finishes of sixth and fourth. Juncos was the only team of the five in Indy Lights that didn’t score at least one podium this weekend.
  • Pato O’Ward did make the podium on Sunday, and fifth and third finishes were great for him at Team Pelfrey. The teenaged Mexican driver will be in action next at this weekend’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with Performance Tech Motorsports in the PC class, where he looks for his second win after also winning at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Regarding his Indy Lights future? “I have to work on more, but I’m optimistic you might see me in Barber,” he said.
  • Kellett and Juan Piedrahita were unlucky to not convert top-five starting positions into results this weekend, as both series veterans were further up the grid than they had been previously.
  • Meanwhile, quietly good weekends occurred for two other returning drivers in Shelby Blackstock (fourth and sixth) and Zachary Claman De Melo (eighth and seventh) in their first weekends with new teams of Belardi and Carlin, respectively. Ryan Norman also did well to score a pair of top-10s in his first weekend with Andretti.
  • Neil Alberico’s run to third on Saturday was aided by a pre-race engine change, as Alberico has continued to bear the brunt of mechanical issues. He didn’t get a chance to repeat on Sunday, collected in a first-lap accident with Nico Jamin.
  • A loss of power also stunted a potential podium run for Alberico’s teammate Matheus Leist in Sunday’s race, the young Brazilian having done well to come to grips early on in his first weekend.
  • Pro Mazda not only saw Martin sweep, but the same podium in order in both races. Carlos Cunha (race one) and Sting Ray Robb (race two) were fourth, with Los Angeles-based Russian Nikita Lastochkin fifth in both races.
  • After completing a late deal to race Pro Mazda with ArmsUp Motorsports in an old Kaiser-driven, Juncos chassis, Max Hanratty did well to end eighth and sixth in the two races. He’d missed qualifying for race two with a gearbox issue. The Gregg and Brent Borland-led ArmsUp group also bagged a solid seventh place in USF2000 race two, with Devin Wojcik.
  • USF2000’s star beyond the winners was Dutch driver Rinus Van Kalmthout, or VeeKay as he’s been listed in promotional material this year. The Pabst driver scored a double podium finish with third in race one, and second in race two. “I’ve never felt so good at a race weekend,” he said.
  • Cape, Pabst, Pelfrey, ArmsUp, John Cummiskey Racing and RJB Motorsports continued into 2017 with the new car, while new teams rounded out the grid in the form of DE Force Racing, Exclusive Autosport, Kaminsky Racing and Newman/Wachs Racing. Benik was a no-show with Kyle Kirkwood, who along with Askew and Exclusive’s Luke Gabin were part of Spencer Pigot’s winning team in Wednesday night’s Kart 4 Kids Pro/Am, an unfortunately – and hopefully briefly – sidelined Team USA Scholarship winner.
  • Newman/Wachs Racing scored five top-10 finishes out of six shots this weekend, Dakota Dickerson with two sixths, Cameron Das with an eighth and a ninth and Andre Castro with one 10th. But it was an expensive and character-building weekend otherwise as Castro sustained three accidents, one in the race, and Das one in a preliminary session. You never want to see a team incur such a weekend but if a team was well-prepared to handle it, it would be NWR, given its previous ladder experience in Atlantic, its crew experience, and the seemingly ever-present smile on veteran PR rep Anne Roy’s face. If the racing gods took away from NWR on the streets of St. Pete, they should make up for it later this year.
  • DE Force was quietly impressive in its series debut. Both Moises de la Vara and Kory Enders were in the front half of the field and Enders banked a solid P8 in race two for the Mexican-influenced team that features former driver and veteran driver coach David Martinez as part of its ownership structure.
  • Seven drivers scored top-10s in both races: Askew, Van Kalmthout, Thompson, Dickerson, Das, 14-year-old Kaylen Frederick of Team Pelfrey who was fourth and fifth,and Guyana driver Calvin Ming, another Pabst driver.
  • Former John Cummiskey Racing drivers Lucas Kohl and Ayla Agren had tough weekends in their new teams. Kohl was 12th and 11th, while Agren had a frustrating weekend where again she was unable to show her potential. JCR pressed on with sports car driver and open-wheel novice Kris Wright, who kept the car in one piece with two top-15 finishes.

The next round for the Indy Lights and USF2000 series is at Barber Motorsports Park in about a month and a half in April, while as mentioned, the Pro Mazda series is off until mid-May in Indianapolis.

Raikkonen grabs Monaco GP pole as Hamilton tanks in Q2

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Kimi Raikkonen will start a Formula 1 race from pole position for the first time in almost nine years on Sunday after topping qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Raikkonen lasted started a grand prix from pole in France in 2008, but managed to edge out Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel at the end of Q3, finishing 0.043 seconds clear in the final stage of Q3.

Raikkonen’s time of 1:12.178 came at the end of a surprising qualifying session that saw two-time Monaco winner and 2017 F1 title contender Lewis Hamilton drop out in Q2, finishing 14th-fastest.

Complaining that he could not get any grip into his tires, Hamilton abandoned his first run in Q2 entirely before pitting.

The Briton was sent out for a second run late on with the chance for three timed laps, the first two of which were compromised. When Hamilton finally found some space to charge, he was greeted by yellow flags for Vandoorne, forcing him to back off, abandon his lap, and be resigned to a lowly P14 finish in qualifying.

Valtteri Bottas was left to lead Mercedes’ charge in Q3, finishing third, just 0.002 seconds behind second-placed Vettel. Red Bull took fourth and fifth on the grid through Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo respectively.

Carlos Sainz Jr. had an impressive run to sixth for Toro Rosso ahead of Sergio Perez, while Haas’ Romain Grosjean made it through to Q3, finishing eighth.

McLaren enjoyed its best qualifying of the season as both Vandoorne and Jenson Button made it through to Q3, but it was not without its troubles. Vandoorne crashed at the end of Q2, forcing a number of drivers to back off on their final lap – including Hamilton – and will drop back three places from P10 due to a penalty overspilling from Spain.

Button charged to ninth on his one-off return to F1, but will fall back to last place for the start on Sunday after receiving a 15-place grid drop due to a power unit issue.

Daniil Kvyat was left 11th for Toro Rosso ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen, with Hamilton following in P14. Felipe Massa rounded out the top 15, having failed to post a quick lap time through the whole of Q2.

Esteban Ocon’s qualifying was something of a rollercoaster as he was eliminated in Q1 after Force India completed a rapid repair job on his VJM10 car following his practice smash. A late lap from Grosjean bumped Ocon down to 16th, dumping him out of qualifying at the first hurdle.

Jolyon Palmer and Lance Stroll’s difficult run of form continued as both dropped out in Q1, finishing 17th and 18th respectively. Palmer’s first run was hindered by a puncture, with the Briton late reporting large amounts of understeer on his car.

Sauber’s practice struggles carried over to qualifying as it propped up the running order in Q1. Pascal Wehrlein finished 19th, while teammate Marcus Ericsson was P20 after clipping the barrier on his final lap, forcing him to park up.

The Monaco Grand Prix is live on NBC from 7:30am ET on Sunday, with F1 Countdown beginning on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app at 7am ET.

Spain points a ‘massive’ morale boost for Sauber after tough start

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Sauber Formula 1 techincal chief Jörg Zander feels that Pascal Wehrlein’s run to eighth place in the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks ago acted as a “massive” morale boost to the team after a tough start to the season.

After years of uncertainty, Sauber’s long-term future was secured last summer when the team was taken over by Longbow Finance, allowing it to go on a recruitment drive and bolster its staffing levels.

The team opted to stick with 2016-spec Ferrari power units for the 2017 season ahead of a new deal with Honda for next year, putting it on the back foot compared to its rivals.

Sauber endured a bumpy start to the year when Wehrlein was injured through the off-season and forced to miss the first two races, as well as struggling to battle for points early in the year when the 2017-spec power units would not be so far ahead.

Wehrlein managed to bounce back in Spain two weeks ago after the team perfected a one-stop strategy to finish eighth, giving the team its best result in two years.

“There was obviously a massive boost for the morale and motivation of the team. We actually didn’t expect us to be there in Barcelona,” Zander said.

“The upgrade package which we planned for Barcelona, we moved to this event. So somehow things seem to have been turned upside down. As you know, we didn’t have Pascal for the first two races, so we had to go with [Antonio] Giovinazzi and, of course, that introduced quite a bit of a change to the operational side.

“So we had a very young, new driver into the car, which we needed to get adapted. But obviously from a development point of view, we do understand that the car is behind, compared to our defined competition, which is the midfield, primarily because we started pretty early in the season to develop that car.

“So we have to try and catch-up. But the parameter we fight here, of course, is time and it’s difficult to gain time over the competition. They have a certain time available as we have, so there’s not any difference.”

Despite finding stability, Sauber is still a significantly smaller operation compared to many of the teams in F1, with Zander appreciating the challenge this creates.

“The thing is, of course, about resources, and these resources, we’re just about to configure and to adapt,” Zander said.

“We have made plenty of recruitments but these are all new people so there is a human factor involved, with regards to getting more out of this operation.

“These are the kind of difficulties that we are fighting at the moment.”

Ferrari has burning ambition to win 1st Monaco GP since 2001

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MONACO (AP) Having closed the gap to dominant Mercedes in an incredibly close-fought Formula One season, Ferrari has another burning ambition: Winning the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Italian manufacturer’s barren spell in Monaco dates to Michael Schumacher’s win in 2001, and four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel is determined to put that right.

“I would say it is about time that Ferrari wins again here,” said Vettel, who has 44 career wins.

“If you could have the freedom to choose any race on the calendar that you would want to win, it would without doubt be Monaco. Ask up and down the paddock and you would get the same answer.”

Schumacher, who won a record seven world titles and 91 races, also won at Monaco driving for Ferrari in 1997 and ’99.

Vettel’s Monaco win was in 2011, when driving for Red Bull. He was fourth here for Ferrari last year while teammate Kimi Raikkonen did not finish the race. In 2015, the year he joined Ferrari, Vettel was second and Raikkonen was sixth.

Ferrari has stepped up the pace this year and, with increased reliability, is matching Mercedes, which has won the last three drivers’ and constructors’ titles.

After five races, Vettel leads the championship by six points from Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton; while Mercedes is eight ahead of Ferrari in the constructors’ race.

But Ferrari may be a bit quicker than Mercedes this year, and the increased pressure has forced some uncharacteristic errors.

During the second practice on Thursday, Mercedes made a sloppy mistake when misjudging a tire switch onto the quicker ultra-soft compound. That allowed Ferrari to top the charts in P2, with Vettel fastest and Raikkonen third.

“It is important to start from the front of the grid, here more than anywhere else,” Vettel said. “I am not counting out Mercedes. I am sure they will be back to full force on Saturday (for qualifying).”

Ferrari’s vastly improved reliability suits Vettel perfectly. The German driver is remarkably consistent if the car allows him to be – like it was when he won four straight titles with Red Bull. But he is also quickly irritated when the car lets him down, as it often did last year.

There have been no Vettel tirades over the race radio. He has placed in the top two in all five races, winning in Australia and Bahrain.

“The single-lap pace is very promising,” Vettel said. “The aim is to get faster.”

Vettel’s confidence has definitely returned, along with some of his old panache.

At the Spanish GP two weeks ago, he was being held up by Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas and could not find a way past. So he tried a move from his karting days; a dummy move from right to left and then swiftly back right again to pass Bottas on the inside.

It is highly unlikely there will be a repeat of that on Sunday, given that the narrow and sinewy Monaco street circuit is arguably the hardest track in F1 to overtake on. Drivers are often brushing the barriers anyway, and this year’s wider cars make that an even more perilous possibility.

“Here you are not entirely the master of your own fate, as many things can happen in a long race,” said Vettel, who has twice been forced to retire during the Monaco GP. “Let’s keep the fingers crossed.”

Esteban Ocon making a name for himself as a rising F1 star

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MONACO (AP) Esteban Ocon is described by one member of his Force India team as a “sponge” because of his capacity to absorb information.

The 20-year-old Frenchman is one of the rising stars of Formula One. Although he has not made the same impact as 19-year-old Max Verstappen – a once-in-a-generation driver – Ocon is making a name for himself with his consistency and some audacious overtaking.

He has scored points in all five races so far, placing a career-best fifth at the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks ago. Prior to that he was seventh in Russia, and overall he sits in eighth place, one spot behind Force India teammate Sergio Perez.

That would be good enough for most drivers early in their careers, but Ocon is in a hurry.

“It is my personal target to get a podium and I want to have it as soon as possible,” Ocon said prior to this weekend’s Monaco GP. “It makes me confident to have a great start like this, progressing all the time, fitting very well into the team. I think we can achieve great things.”

Ocon broke into F1 last year, making his debut for the now defunct Manor team a month before his 20th birthday at the Belgian GP in late August. He has only competed in 14 career races but has managed to make an impression several times.

None more so than at the season-opening Australian GP, where he overtook Fernando Alonso with a passing move down the right that the two-time F1 champion himself would have been proud of. The timing of the attack, where he patiently prodded behind Alonso before swooping around him in a flash, bore the hallmarks of a future great.

“I loved the move against Fernando,” said Ocon, the youngest French driver to score points in F1. “That was pretty solid.”

After getting past Alonso, he then held him off while also repelling an attack from the experienced Nico Hulkenberg. That was only his 10th F1 race, yet he defied two drivers with 400 between them.

Verstappen, the youngest F1 driver to win a race when he clinched the Spanish GP last year, has a similar instinct for overtaking and also possesses the acute concentration and calmness required to properly defend a position under extreme pressure.

That Ocon beat Verstappen to the European Formula 3 title in 2014 – winning it with a round to spare and earning himself a spot on the prestigious Mercedes F1 junior program – hints at untapped potential.

“He’s quick. He proved that in junior categories,” said Daniel Ricciardo, Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate. “You know Esteban got that (F3 title), so he’s obviously talented.”

Moreover, Ocon is incredibly committed to understanding the intricacies of the Force India car, which runs on Mercedes engines.

“I don’t believe too much in the concept of luck. Behind results there is always hard work,” Ocon said. “I always go to the factory between the races to have intense debriefs with my engineers and do simulator work, for hours and hours.”

His propensity for learning astounds senior team members.

“He’s like a sponge and he just absorbs information as fast as you can give it to him. His want and his desire are unquestionable,” said Andrew Green, the team’s technical director. “He absolutely wants this and he has the talent to do great things, but he is going about it the right way. I have no doubts that he is going to get to where he wants to be in a few years’ time.”

Green further describes Ocon’s intuitive understanding of how far he can push the car.

“I watched him for quite a long time in the simulator last week, pounding around the (Monaco circuit), and his car control was incredible,” Green said. “He’s an amazing talent. Can he get a podium? Well, we need to give him the car to do that. But he has an uncanny ability to finish races.”