Esteban Ocon will join Sahara Force India for the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship alongside Sergio Perez, it has been confirmed.
The Frenchman made his F1 debut at the Belgian Grand Prix this year with Manor Racing and has gone on to impress by getting up to speed relative to more experienced team-mate Pascal Wehrlein.
Though he was strongly linked to a seat at Renault, Ocon became a candidate for Force India in the wake of Nico Hulkenberg's departure, with a deal being secured ahead of this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix.
A former European F3 and GP3 champion, Mercedes development driver Ocon is delighted to be getting his first full season with a competitive team.
“I'm very excited to join Sahara Force India,” he said. “I know the team quite well already because I was a test driver last year and I'm really looking forward to working with everybody at Silverstone once again. I'm still relatively new to Formula One, but spending half a season at Manor Racing has given me some valuable experience and I feel ready for this new opportunity with Sahara Force India.
“The next few months will be very busy as I do all I can to prepare for the challenge ahead of me. It means lots of days at the factory, working on the simulator and building relationships with the engineers and everybody in the team. It's something I've been working towards my whole life and I intend to grab this opportunity with both hands so that I can deliver the results the team expects from me.
“I want to say 'thank you' to everybody at Manor and especially to Mercedes-Benz for their support and belief in me. I can't wait for 2017 and my first full season racing in Formula One.”
Describing Ocon as an 'exceptional talent', Force India team principal Vijay Mallya is delighted to be giving the 20 year-old its much sought after race seat for 2017.
“It's a pleasure to welcome Esteban as our new race driver. He's an exceptional talent, as his status as a Mercedes Junior demonstrates, and I have no doubt he will flourish inside our team. We've had our eye on Esteban for a number of years and have followed his progress through the junior categories where he delivered outstanding results.
“We ran him in the car last year during testing and his performance convinced us that he is more than capable of racing alongside Sergio. Sahara 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.”
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