Esteban Ocon says he never expected his F1 race debut to come as early as this year's Belgian Grand Prix but is confident he will be fully prepared for the challenge having signed for the remainder of the year with Manor.
The Mercedes junior driver and Renault reserve driver is set for his maiden F1 race start at Spa-Francorchamps after replacing Rio Haryanto in Manor's driver line-up alongside Pascal Wehrlein as the Indonesian driver failed to secure sufficient funding for the rest of the year
. Ocon will see out the campaign with Manor which has called a premature end to his first campaign in DTM.
“I never thought that I would be offered this opportunity quite so soon,” Ocon said. "Not at all. But thanks to all the tests and my preparation this year, I feel ready for it. It's helped me a lot. I'm very happy about it and I'm looking forward immensely to my first Formula 1 race weekend in Belgium.”
The 2015 GP3 Series champion has accepted he will have unfinished business in DTM, having claimed just a single points finish over the opening five rounds, but says it wouldn't have been possible to combine a second half campaign between F1 and the German touring car championship despite no clashes arising.
“I'm a bit sad that I cannot complete the DTM adventure,” he said. “I've kept raising my level of performance in the course of the season and gained a lot of experience. My pace has been steadily improving. So from that perspective, it's a pity that I'm unable to finish the season with the team. But it's not possible to compete simultaneously in both championships.”
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As well as being involved in the mid-season F1 tests for Mercedes and Renault, Ocon also received free practice one outings with the French manufacturer in Spain, Great Britain, Hungary and Germany and has been training extensively for the physical demands of the globe-trotting F1 cycle.
“I've also been training hard. The training isn't all that different from in the DTM,” he said. “I'm preparing as thoroughly as possible so that I'll be ready for my first F1 race weekend. Before going to Spa, I will meet up with my new team again and we'll go through all the details together.”