MONTMELO – Mercedes has confirmed that it will support GP3 driver Esteban Ocon for the 2015 season following his split with Lotus at the beginning of the year.
Ocon, 18, is one of the brightest talents racing in junior motorsport at the moment. The Frenchman won last year’s FIA Formula 3 European Championship in 2014, beating current Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen to the title.
He looked poised to step up to either GP2 or Formula Renault 3.5 in 2015 with Lotus’ support, but after his deal with the team fell through, he sought refuge in GP3 with ART Grand Prix.
However, Mercedes has today announced that Ocon will enjoy support from the German marque in 2015 with a view to a closer relationship in the future.
Besides GP3, Ocon will also act as the official test and reserve driver for Mercedes in the DTM championship, Germany’s premier national touring car series, and “has signed a contractual option that could see him become a fully fledged Mercedes-Benz driver in the future”.
“Esteban is a mega-talented young guy and one of the stars of the future,” Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff said. “I’m pleased we’ve found a good path to continue his relationship with Mercedes-Benz, because we have a strong tradition of supporting the best young drivers with a view to their long-term potential.
“We will be watching Esteban’s progress with a lot of interest and I hope this year will be the first of many working together.”
Ahead of his debut in GP3 this weekend, Ocon expressed his delight with the new Mercedes deal, and hopes that it can spur him on to challenge for the series title in 2015.
“I’m really proud to have the support of Mercedes-Benz this season and that the Mercedes AMG DTM team has trusted me with the important role of test and reserve driver,” Ocon said.
“I spent last weekend with the DTM team in Hockenheim and hope that I can play a valuable role this year. But my main focus is on the opening races of the GP3 Series this weekend.
“I am proud to be racing with support from Mercedes-Benz and in a fantastic team like ART Grand Prix. I hope that I can compete for the title this year, starting with strong results in Barcelona.”