By Alan Baldwin
SILVERSTONE, England (Reuters) – Force India’s new French signing Esteban Ocon has been feeling fed up. Literally.
New rules mean the tall 20-year-old has had to bulk up for his first full season in Formula One, with drivers facing far greater G-forces as they power the faster cars through the corners.
That has meant bigger meals over the winter for the former Manor driver, who has put on five kilos, but unfortunately without savoring the sort of fine cuisine his compatriots are famous for.
“It’s been a very hard training regime and not only the training, but the eating part of it,” he told reporters at the launch of the team’s new VJM10 car at a wet Silverstone on Wednesday.
“I had to eat so much food.
“That was not nice. You know what we call Steak a Cheval? It’s the steak with eggs on top and we had to eat like for example at lunch four of them at 150 grammes. I had to eat four of them with vegetables and then the same with chicken in the evening.
“I stopped now. I’m glad I did stop it. I was force-feeding, because you can’t take on weight if you don’t do that. It’s been very hard from all aspects but I’ve been progressing so much.”
The new cars have bigger, wider tyres and revamped aerodynamics that should make them harder to handle.
The Frenchman’s experienced Mexican team mate Sergio Perez glanced across at the car after he and Ocon had unveiled it and said it looked “really demanding physically”.
Ocon, whose two months of training at high altitude in the French Pyrenees included wading through waist-high snowdrifts, told Reuters Television that it looked “properly aggressive, like a proper man’s car.
“The physical point of view will be much more important than previous years. It was hard already in the last years but I think it will be twice harder this year,” he said.
Testing, which starts in Barcelona on Monday, could be the most grueling of all if the cars enjoy good reliability straight out of the box.
That could see drivers, who have not been in the cars for any length of time since late November, complete a significant number of laps.
“Testing is always the hardest,” said Ocon. “‘Driving fit’ is very different to fit overall. So we are going to feel it the following day for sure.
“I will struggle for sure, it’s going to be hard. But if I struggle and I can’t drive the car, I don’t know what I have to do more.”
The season starts in Australia on March 26.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)