Esteban Ocon says fellow Formula 1 driver Lance Stroll deserves respect for what he has achieved amid ongoing uncertainty over his own future in the sport.

The Frenchman is set to lose out on his Force India seat to Stroll next season with the current Williams driver expected to follow his father to the team after the Canadian businessman led a consortium to rescue the Silverstone-based squad from administration.

It leaves Ocon facing the bleak prospect of a year on the sidelines with a lack of options available to him for 2019. The considerable backing from Stroll’s father has often led to the 19-year-old being the subject of criticism, but Ocon believes his likely replacement has worked hard to get where he has.

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“We can come from a different background, but inside we have the same passion, spirit of competition, and the same love for the sport,” Ocon wrote on his Instagram story. 

“So guys please be respectful and show your support, nothing is easy in life and we all work hard to be here.”

The Mercedes junior had been on the verge of securing a deal with Renault for next year, only for Daniel Ricciardo’s bombshell move to Enstone slamming the door shut on Ocon.

He then became a contender for a drive at McLaren next year and reportedly underwent a seat fitting with the team before it promoted its highly-rated protégé and Formula 2 title contender Lando Norris instead.

Ocon admitted during the Singapore Grand Prix weekend it was “hard to believe” his hopes of finding an F1 seat for 2019 were fading but vowed not to give up with Williams’ a possible destination given its Mercedes ties.

Ocon’s links to Mercedes have put off a number of rival teams from making an offer, but the German manufacturer insists it would not release Ocon from its young driver programme “in a million years"

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