Force India signs Este­ban Ocon to multi-year deal

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Este­ban Ocon is join­ing the Force India team next sea­son on a mul­ti­year con­tract, re­plac­ing Nico Hulken­berg af­ter he left to join For­mula One ri­val Re­nault. The 20-year-old French­man is rac­ing for the Manor team this sea­son. There are two races left, start­ing with this week­end’s Brazil­ian Grand Prix. Force India con­firmed Ocon’s sign­ing in a team state­ment yes­ter­day, say­ing he will race along­side Ser­gio Perez “to form one of the most ex­cit­ing line-ups on the grid with a blend of youth and ex­pe­ri­ence.” Ocon made his F1 de­but at the Bel­gian GP in late Au­gust and has com­peted in seven races. “Spend­ing half a sea­son at Manor Rac­ing has given me some valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence and I feel ready for this new op­por­tu­nity,” Ocon said. Force India team prin­ci­pal Vi­jay Mallya sees Ocon as “an ex­cep­tional tal­ent, as his sta­tus as a Mercedes ju­nior (driver) demon­strates.” “Force India has a tra­di­tion of in­vest­ing in young, tal­ented driv­ers and the ar­rival of Este­ban will bring some fresh en­ergy and mo­ti­va­tion to every­one in the team,” Mal­laya said. Ocon won the Euro­pean For­mula 3 cham­pi­onship in 2014. He be­gan this year rac­ing for Mercedes in Ger­many’s DTM tour­ing car cham­pi­onship and was also a re­serve driver for the Re­nault F1 team. “Este­ban has the most im­pres­sive track record in ju­nior (rac­ing),” Mercedes head of motorsport Toto Wolff said. Force India, which is sup­plied by Mercedes en­gines, is vy­ing with Wil­liams for fourth in the constructors’ cham­pi­onship and holds a nine-point lead head­ing into this week­end’s race.

Este­ban Ocon will re­place Nico Hulken­berg Photo: AP

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