On the eve of the team’s and Ocon’s home grand prix at the Circuit Paul Ricard, the Frenchman’s impressive start to the season has been rewarded with a new long-term deal.

Despite trailing Fernando Alonso in the drivers’ championship, the Frenchman has often had the performance advantage over his world champion teammate in 2021.

Ocon’s new deal with Alpine officially rules him out of the running for the second Mercedes seat alongside Hamilton, given his previous links to the reigning world champions.

The 24-year-old started his F1 career midway through the 2016 season for Manor, before spending two years with Force India.

Ocon was dropped in favour of Lance Stroll for 2019, leaving him with a year on the sidelines.

He returned in 2020 alongside Daniel Ricciardo at Renault but struggled to get to grips with F1 after a year away.

Ocon started 2021 brightly with points in four of the opening six races, out-qualifying teammate Alonso 4-2.

Speaking of the announcement, Ocon said: “I’m delighted to continue with the team beyond this year and it’s a fantastic feeling to secure my future with Alpine. We’ve been progressing well together since I joined the team and I aim to continue that journey going forward. There are great challenges ahead of us, especially with the new regulations in 2022. I’m sure we can hit our targets by working hard together and continuing the story.

“I often think back to the Sakhir Grand Prix last year with the podium, and it motivates me to create more special memories like that. I’m really looking forward to the next chapter but, for now, we’re very much focused on this season and taking each race as it comes.”

Laurent Rossi, CEO of Alpine Cars, added: “We are very proud to retain Esteban as part of the Alpine family. Since returning to the team in 2020, Esteban has grown in confidence and stature to deliver consistently good results and help develop the car with the team.

“Despite his young age, he is very experienced in Formula 1 and he’s on a positive trajectory in both his maturity and ability behind the wheel. He is a strong asset for us now, and also going forward as we meet the challenge of the new regulations. We have every confidence in Esteban to help drive the team and the brand to the next level and meet its long-term objectives.

“Esteban is an asset for us beyond F1 as he is deeply involved in the Alpine global project. Thanks to his personality and values, Esteban is naturally a perfect ambassador of Alpine. For now, we look forward to continuing the 2021 campaign at our home Grand Prix in France and doing the best possible job at every remaining race weekend.”

Ocon will remain alongside Alonso for the 2022 season, with the Enstone-based outfit hoping the new regulation changes gives it an opportunity to move up the pecking order.