Ocon surprised to get F1 debut so early in career

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Esteban Ocon has admitted he did not expect to get his Formula 1 debut so early in his career ahead of his maiden outing for Manor in next weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.

Ocon, 19, was given the call-up by Manor after Rio Haryanto was unable to meet his contractual obligations due to a shortfall in funding, causing him to lose his seat.

Ocon has enjoyed run-outs in four practice sessions so far this season with Renault, having been loaned to the French manufacturer from Mercedes at the start of the year.

With his F1 debut just over one week away, Ocon admitted he did not expect to be making his first grand prix start this early.

“No, not at all. But thanks to all the tests and my preparation this year, I feel ready for it,” Ocon said.

“It’s helped me a lot. But I never thought that I would be offered this opportunity quite so soon.

“At the same time, I’m very happy about it and I’m looking forward immensely to my first Formula 1 race weekend in Belgium.”

Ocon has spent 2016 racing for Mercedes in DTM, Germany’s premier touring car series, and admitted that he was disappointed he could not finish the season.

“Yes, I’m a bit sad that I cannot complete the DTM adventure. I’ve kept raising my level of performance in the course of the season and gained a lot of experience,” Ocon said.

“My pace has been steadily improving. So from that perspective, it’s a pity that I’m unable to finish the season with the team.

“But it’s not possible to compete simultaneously in both championships.

“Consequently, I had to decide, and the decision went in favour of Formula 1.”

The Belgian Grand Prix is live across NBC Sports Group next weekend.