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F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Mercedes to promote Esteban Ocon

Mercedes confirms it will promote Esteban Ocon into a more prominent role for 2016, but says that doesn't mean Pascal Wehrlein is Manor-bound.
GP3 Series title contender Esteban Ocon will be upgraded to a Mercedes F1 role in 2016, though Toto Wolff insists this is no confirmation that Pascal Wehrlein will race in F1 next year.

Ocon, who beat Max Verstappen to the European Formula 3 Championship last year, is currently locked into battle with Luca Ghiotto for the GP3 Series title at Abu Dhabi this weekend, but has already received a 'prize' of an enhanced role with Mercedes after its chose to take up its option on the youngster.

Though this announcement, made by Ocon on Twitter, is potentially viewed as a reserve driver role in place of the Pascal Wehrlein – who has been strongly linked with the available Manor seat -, Mercedes F1 boss played down the suggestion that Ocon's promotion means the DTM champion will be in F1 next year.

"He has been with us now for a while, he has been a test driver in DTM and integrated well, and he is doing a very good job in GP3,” he said. “He is somebody we would very much like to have in the family, this is why we exercise the option, but it doesn't mean we have found a solution for Pascal.

Though Wolff says he wants the 'right team' for Wehrlein, Manor is the only F1 outfit yet to confirm a driver for the 2016 season. As a result, Wolff says it could run both Wehrlein and Ocon as its reserve drivers

"The current driver market is a bit difficult because most teams have announced their drivers, and it needs to be the right team. Having taken up Esteban we are conscious we need to find a suitable programme for both of them.

"It could well mean both of them end up in a testing role, in a reserve driver role and a DTM role, so it's not done yet."

Regardless, Mercedes will need to persuade the FIA to grant Wehrlein – who has completed several test sessions with Mercedes and Force India – a superlicence, as his racing experience in the DTM doesn't grant him enough 'points' to qualify for one under the recently introduced system.



Related Pictures

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2015 GP3 Series Round 1. Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain. Saturday 9 May 2015 Esteban Ocon (FRA, ART Grand Prix) Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Media Service.
2015 GP3 Series Round 1. Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain. Saturday 9 May 2015. Podium. Esteban Ocon (FRA, ART Grand Prix). Photo: Zak Mauger/GP3 Series Media Service.
27.11.2016 - Race, Jolyon Palmer (GBR) Renault Sport F1 Team RS16 and Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Haas F1 Team VF-16
27.11.2016 - Race, Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Renault Sport F1 Team RS16 and Pascal Wehrlein (GER) Manor Racing MRT05
27.11.2016 - Race, Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Haas F1 Team VF-16 leads Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team VF-16
27.11.2016 - Race, Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR11 leads Pascal Wehrlein (GER) Manor Racing MRT05
27.11.2016 - Race, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team VF-16 leads Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Haas F1 Team VF-16
27.11.2016 - Race, Esteban Ocon (FRA) Manor Racing MRT05, Pascal Wehrlein (GER) Manor Racing MRT05 and Felipe Nasr (BRA) Sauber C34
27.11.2016 - Race, Start of the race, Daniil Kvyat (RUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR11 and Pascal Wehrlein (GER) Manor Racing MRT05
27.11.2016 - Race, Esteban Ocon (FRA) Manor Racing MRT05
27.11.2016 - Race, Pascal Wehrlein (GER) Manor Racing MRT05
27.11.2016 - Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Haas F1 Team VF-16
27.11.2016 - Manor Racing goup photo, Esteban Ocon (FRA) Manor Racing MRT05, Jordan King (GBR) Manor Racing, Test Driver and Pascal Wehrlein (GER) Manor Racing MRT05
27.11.2016 - Jordan King (GBR) Manor Racing MRT05, Test Driver
27.11.2016 - Pascal Wehrlein (GER) Manor Racing MRT05
27.11.2016 - Esteban Ocon (FRA) Manor Racing MRT05
27.11.2016 - Pascal Wehrlein (GER) Manor Racing MRT05
27.11.2016 - Esteban Ocon (FRA) Manor Racing MRT05, Jordan King (GBR) Manor Racing MRT05, Test Driver and Pascal Wehrlein (GER) Manor Racing MRT05

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