Ocon set to balance Mercedes, Renault roles in 2016

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It’s not often that a young driver in open-wheel racing can juggle multiple manufacturer commitments, but young Frenchman Esteban Ocon will do just that in 2016.

Ocon will serve as Renault Sport Formula One Team’s third and reserve driver this year, but he’s also part of the Mercedes-Benz junior program. Mercedes has managed his career since 2014.

Ocon, 19, won the FIA Formula 3 European Championship in 2014 and last year’s GP3 Series championship. He’s also made one appearance on a Grand Prix weekend, as third driver in what was then a Lotus-Renault – prior to Lotus-Mercedes and now Renault – in the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

In a Q&A with the Renault website, Ocon described how he’ll balance his two manufacturer roles.

“My career has been managed by Mercedes since the end of 2014 and I became a full Mercedes junior at the end of last season, after winning the GP3 Series,” Ocon said.

“Even in my new role as third driver for Renault Sport Formula One Team, 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.”

Ocon still says his “heart resides in Enstone,” base of the Renault F1 Team.

“Part of my heart is in this corner of the countryside in England. I grew up there, and visited for the first time when I was still go-karting at 13 years old. It blew me away: the people, the technology, just incredible.

“I’m still a young guy – but we have a long history together.”