Ocon ‘on loan’ to Renault from Mercedes for 2016

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Renault Sport managing director Cyril Abiteboul has revealed that reserve driver Esteban Ocon is being loaned to the French manufacturer by Mercedes for the 2016 Formula 1 season.

Ocon previously enjoyed ties with Lotus F1 Team before it was taken over by Renault, taking part in practice for the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Frenchman joined Mercedes’ junior program on a provisional deal for 2015 before being signed up as a full member following his GP3 title success.

However, Ocon has now returned to Enstone, being announced as Renault Sport F1 Team’s new reserve driver for the 2016 season.

Speaking to reporters following the team’s launch in France earlier this week, Abiteboul confirmed that Ocon had been loaned to Renault for the season by Mercedes, but seemed open to making the deal permanent in the future.

“Esteban is great new addition for us for this year, and we are very excited to be taking part in his development,” Abiteboul said.

“For the time being he is on a loan basis, [like] it is happening in football. And then who knows?”

Ocon added: “Even in my new role as third driver for Renault, I remain a long term member of the Mercedes family, and I have to thank Mercedes and Renault for making this possible.

“There are some opportunities out there to race as well this season but nothing has been decided yet. It is an incredible opportunity to be guided and supported by Toto [Wolff] and Mercedes, and to have the honour of representing a brand like Renault in F1.”