Esteban Ocon: Max Verstappen is my reference point

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Esteban Ocon says he will use previous Formula 3 rival Max Verstappen as his reference point for his Formula One career, which begins with Manor in Belgium this weekend.

Ocon beat Verstappen to the 2014 European F3 title and went on to win the 2015 GP3 championship, while Verstappen jumped straight into F1 with Toro Rosso, before moving to Red Bull and becoming the youngest ever grand prix winner in Spain this year.

When asked whether he sees Verstappen as a reference point in F1, The Frenchman replied: "He is the reference because I was racing with him. At the end I won the title but he was a tough guy to beat.

"We had some great fights and he went through and he did really good in F1 so he's a reference and I hope to do even better than him. I hope to have some more fights with him in the future, that's what I am working for."

While he had some difficult wheel-to-wheel battles with Verstappen during their junior racing careers, Ocon revealed that ex-Formula Renault teammate and now Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat has been the toughest rival of his career so far.

"[Verstappen] was not the toughest but we had some great battles and it was tough to win the championship.

"I think Daniil Kvyat. He was my teammate in my first year in single-seaters so I don't think it was very comparable, but when he drove he was very impressive."

Ocon joins fellow Mercedes junior Pascal Wehrlein at Manor from this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix but says he does not feel any added pressure over the prospect of a head-to-head battle between the two to impress Mercedes.

"I don't have extra pressure with that. I'm happy to be here already and I will make the most of what I can do. Pascal is a great driver and he will be quick but I need to work on myself and to do a normal job like I did in previous categories.

"I need to learn as much as I can from what Pascal is doing."