Today it was finally announced that Esteban Ocon will replace Rio Haryanto at the Manor Racing Formula 1 team for the remainder of the 2016 season.
Ocon, who like Pascal Wehrlein is a Mercedes junior driver, has been loaned to Renault to be its reserve driver this season. He will make his F1 debut at the Belgian Grand Prix later this month. Prior to his spell at Renault, the French driver won the FIA European Formula 3 title in 2014 – ahead of Max Verstappen – and the GP3 championship last year. Let’s hope he’s not to Max Verstappen what Paul Di Resta is to Sebastian Vettel. We get it Paul! Please stop mentioning it.
The 19 year-old has been a familiar figure in the F1 paddock this season through his role as Renault reserve driver, which has seen him participate in four FP1 sessions. Ocon also participated in the Silverstone test for Mercedes making him one of the very few F1 drivers to drive three different F1 cars in one season.
Manor Racing Director, Dave Ryan also seems excited by the addition of Ocon and welcomed him to the team via a teams PR statement today which we are shamelessly going to copy and paste.
He said: “We are very pleased to welcome Esteban to Manor Racing for the remainder of the season. He is clearly one of the rising stars of F1, shining in his Reserve Driver role with Renault, while also competing in the DTM with Mercedes-AMG this year.
“Our team has made significant strides in 2016, including finishing in the points for the first time in Austria last month. We need to maintain our pace of development in order to achieve our ambitions, not only for this season but also for the longer-term, so the calibre of a replacement is key.
“We’re confident that when Esteban makes his Grand Prix debut in Spa, we will have a very potent line-up with which to take the fight to our immediate competitors for the rest of the season.”
It is not just Ryan is excited by the prospect of yet another Mercedes protege in the Manor car. We too can’t wait to see what he can deliver. With Spa and Monza just round the corner their will be ample chance for some points scoring positions. We are confident Ocon will deliver. Why else would we have touted him for the seat long before any other blog or journalist for that matter even mentioned him. We are not just pretty faces you know!
The battle between the two young Mercedes drivers will be off great interest. In the same machinery, what happens between now and the end of the season may determine which one of their drivers in the short-term moves up the grid for 2017 and quite possibly in a Mercedes car in 2018.
We can’t wait for Spa!