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Ocon: Replacing Hulkenberg tough task

Esteban Ocon says replacing Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India set-up will be tricky after only half a season in F1 but is relishing the challenge.
Esteban Ocon says replacing Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India set-up will be tricky after only half a season in F1 but is relishing the challenge as his career progress continues to accelerate.

The highly-tipped youngster has secured a two-year deal with Force India under the blessing of his management at Mercedes and will team-mate Sergio Perez in 2017.

On the day of the announcement, the 20-year-old admitted he hadn't been scheduled to make his F1 debut until next season but saw his maiden DTM campaign cut short as he stepped up for Manor in place of Rio Haryanto.

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The 2015 GP3 Series winner says he has been given assurances from Force India that they feel he is ready for the move despite his inexperience but concedes he is already feeling the pressure to fill the void left by Renault-bound Hulkenberg.

“They [Force India] believe in me, they think we can achieve great things together, and they want a strong driver to replace Nico, which is a tough task, but I will do my best to replace him the best way possible,” Ocon said. “Coming with not a lot of experience halfway through the season was very hard.

“Probably my progress was a good point, and I also tested with Force India back in 2015, and the test was great. I remember being P2, just behind the Mercedes, and it was a hard day – raining, drying, so I remember a great test, great memories, and the team welcomed me well back then.”

READ: Who is going where? 2017 F1 driver line-up so far

Ocon beat Manor team-mate and fellow Mercedes driver Pascal Wehrlein to the Force India race seat for 2017, with the German driver demanding answers to why he was overlooked having scored the team's only points finish of the year.

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Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
11.11.2016 - Free Practice 1, Esteban Ocon (FRA) Manor Racing MRT05 and Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM09
25.06.2017 - Race, Alain Prost (FRA) Renault Sport F1 Team Special Advisor
25.06.2017 - Race, Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM010
25.06.2017 - Race, Nikki Lauda (AU), Mercedes and Mario Isola (ITA), Pirelli Racing Manager
25.06.2017 - Race, Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 W08 leads Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM010
25.06.2017 - Race, Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM010 leads Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren MCL32
25.06.2017 - Race, Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams FW40, Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 and Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas F1 Team VF-17
25.06.2017 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
25.06.2017 - Race, The Safety car leads Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
25.06.2017 - Race, Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM010
25.06.2017 - Race, Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM010
25.06.2017 - Race, Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 leads Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas F1 Team VF-17
25.06.2017 - Race, Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren MCL32
25.06.2017 - Race, Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM010 and Esteban Ocon (FRA) Sahara Force India F1 VJM10
25.06.2017 - Race, Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM010 and Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams FW40
25.06.2017 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
25.06.2017 - Race, Restart, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08 and Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
25.06.2017 - Race, Restart, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08 and Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H

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