By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
Esteban Ocon is set to make his Formula 1 debut in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Franchorchamps after being tabbed to replace Rio Haryanto at Manor for the remainder of the season.
A winner of both the FIA European F3 championship (2014) and GP3 Series title (2015), Ocon has spent this year in a reserve role with Renault Sport F1 Team while also competing with Mercedes-AMG in DTM.
“I’m thrilled that I’ll be making my Grand Prix debut with Manor Racing later this month, and at Spa, of all circuits, which is the next best thing to my home race,” said Ocon. “I’m ready for this exciting step up, thanks to the experience I’ve gained as a Formula 1 Reserve Driver this season.
“I’d like to thank Renault Sport F1 Team and Mercedes-Benz for working together to make this happen and to Manor Racing for the opportunity, which I’m going to grab with both hands. I’ve visited the Manor Technical Centre already, for my seat fit and to meet with the wider team, so we’ll be ready to hit the ground running after the summer break. They’ve done a great job this season and I’m excited that I’ve been tasked with helping them to build on that progress. I can’t wait to get started!”
The Frenchman, who has been linked to a race seat at Renault for next season, will be replaced at the DTM event in Moscow by two-time Macau Grand Prix winner and Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires driver Felix Rosenqvist, but Ocon is expected to run the remainder of the schedule as it does not clash with his new obligations.
Cyril Abiteboul, the managing director for Renault, was excited to see Ocon get the opportunity for race experience in the highest form of grand prix racing as they look at the possibility of working with the talented 19-year-old after this season.
“Esteban joining Manor Racing for the last nine races of the season demonstrates the excellent relationship the two teams, Renault Sport Formula One Team and Mercedes-Benz, have maintained for several years,” said Abiteboul.
“It is an outstanding opportunity for Esteban to gather mileage and race experience in a young, stable and very professional team. Esteban will be up against a highly rated and quick teammate, which will enable us to evaluate him in a representative environment. I hope this experience will be of great benefit for him and for Renault in the near future.”