ABU DHABI – Esteban Ocon and Adderly Fong will make their Formula 1 weekend debuts in Abu Dhabi on Friday when they take part in practice at Yas Marina.
With FP1 taking place in the daytime and offering little in the way of information for the teams ahead of the nighttime race, it does offer them a chance to test out their younger drivers and evaluate them up against the current F1 field.
Ocon, 18, won this year’s FIA Formula 3 European Championship in a very competitive field that also included 2015 Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen.
The Frenchman is highly rated within the F1 paddock, and will take part in practice for Lotus on Friday in Abu Dhabi as part of his development programme with the British team. He will also run in the post-race test at Yas Marina next week on Tuesday, with team reserve driver Charles Pic running on the Wednesday.
“It is a fantastic opportunity for me to drive in my first session at a grand prix and I am tremendously grateful to Lotus F1 Team and Gravity Sport Management,” Ocon said. “The practice session on Friday will be my first time driving the Yas Marina Circuit and my first time in the latest generation Formula 1 car, so there will be a lot to learn, especially as I will be completing the team’s programme for the free practice session.
“For the test day we will have far more time me to learn and develop with the car so I’m really looking forward to Abu Dhabi.”
Fong has enjoyed a rather patchy junior career so far, scoring just two points in the last two years of GP3. He has also taken part in one Indy Lights race (Baltimore 2012) and some other formative series, but enjoyed his biggest run with Sauber in a two-year-old car in Valencia earlier this year. He will now follow this up with FP1 in Abu Dhabi.
“I am very excited about my Formula 1 debut in Abu Dhabi, but also at the same time a little bit nervous,” 24-year-old Fong said. “Last month I drove the Sauber C31 for the first time in Valencia, and it was good to get the mileage to be able to familiarise myself with the speed of a Formula 1 car.
“Being able to drive during a Formula 1 weekend is a great privilege, and I am very happy to have the opportunity. It is good that I already know the track as at the same time here last year I did a GP3 race.”