Manor’s new signing Esteban Ocon did not expect F1 debut to come so soon
Esteban Ocon
Posted By: Alex Kalinauckas  |  18 Aug 2016   |  9:36 am GMT  |  22 comments

When racing resumes next week in Spa for the Belgian Grand Prix, all eyes will be on Manor Racing’s new signing Esteban Ocon, who comes in to replace Rio Haryanto as teammate to Pascal Werhlein at the British squad. That places two Mercedes proteges in the Manor team and gives them a chance to carefully assess both.

The 19 year old Frenchman says he did not expect to step to Formula 1 so early in his motorsport career.

Like Wehrlein, Ocon is a Mercedes-backed junior driver and he competed for the German marque in the DTM championship during the first half of 2016. Ocon, who also made four F1 practice appearances for Renault over the first 12 races of the year, beat Max Verstappen to win the FIA European Formula 3 championship in 2014.

Esteban Ocon

The Frenchman clinched the GP3 crown last year and drove at the in-season F1 test at Silverstone earlier this season for Mercedes.

Although Ocon says he did not expect his F1 drive to come about so soon, he reckons he has had enough preparation with Renault and Mercedes to make his F1 debut.

When asked if he had thought the opportunity to drive in F1 would come so early in his career, he replied: “No, not at all. But thanks to all the tests and my preparation this year, I feel ready for it. It’s helped me a lot. Esteban Ocon

“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 was 23rd in the DTM standings before he signed for Manor, but felt he was beginning to make progress in the category before his F1 deal was announced.

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

Esteban Ocon

As the F1 paddock prepares to return from its summer break, Ocon described how he spent his time off relaxing before focusing on training, and how he will make the final preparations for his F1 debut before heading to Spa.

He said: “It was nice to relax on vacation with friends. It helped take my mind off things. But since the announcement was made, of course, I’ve also been training hard. The training isn’t all that different from in the DTM.

“I’m preparing as thoroughly as possible so that I’ll be ready for my first F1 race weekend. Before going to Spa, I will meet up with my new team again and we’ll go through all the details together.”

Mercedes loaned Ocon, who will use the number 31 when he joins the F1 grid, to Renault to act as a development and reserve driver for the Enstone-based team during the first half of 2016.

When the teenager’s deal with Manor was announced, the French manufacturer’s managing director, Cyril Abiteboul, stated that it would use the remaining races of the season to “evaluate him in a representative environment”.

With both of Renault’s drivers reportedly under pressure to keep their drives for 2017, there is a chance that Ocon could be slotted into one of those seats next season depending on his performances in the nine upcoming F1 events.

Esteban Ocon

What do you make of Esteban Ocon? Do you expect him to make an impact on F1 this season? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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Tornillo Amarillo

The Frenchman…

Esteban OCON, born in Évreux, Normandy (France) on September 17, 1996, “from a family of Spanish origin . His parents owned a garage in the prefecture of Eure, and introduced him at a young age the joys of karting.” (Free translation from the website Auto-Moto).

“Esteban” is a Spanish name and pretty sure I imagine he speaks English, French and Spanish at least.

I would love to see him Champion in Renault in a couple of years… in yellow clothes! Go Esteban!!!


Good to see merit being rewarded, get in there Esteban!


If he’s as good as some say, as a Merc junior driver, would Merc let him go to Renault next year if they want him??


Its better than Manor, as Merc. them selves dont have a competitive seat to offer to these young guns. Atleast, they groom better. Not sure if Mr.Fred invite these guys to Renault. He knows a thing or two about encouraging talent.


…testing sessions with F1 teams during Friday practice sessions. (Apologies for hitting Submit whilst finishing my sentence in regards to Alex Lynn and Mitch Evans struggling in GP2 and probably wishing they weren’t in it).


Kubica, Schumacher, Vettel… just a few names who made a splash in F1 after debuting midseason. I must say after the title victories of Rosberg & Hamilton, GP2’s reputation and ability to produce drivers of exquisite quality has diminished gradually. Its predecessor F3000 was a mediocre feeder series and GP2 seems to be following a similar trend, with its grids bloated by surplus pay drivers such as Sergio Canamasas. Driver programmes tend to train youngsters through F3, GP3 & DTM instead, as the chances of beating 4/5 year veterans such as Valsecchi & Leimer & Palmer diminished the excitement factor of youngsters such as Sam Bird & James Caledo. Now we see Alex Lynn and Mitch Evans struggling, probably wishing ( especially with Lynn at Williams) that they had negotiated wholsome


Am I going to get a “sign up for email alerts” prompt EVERY time I visit this site???


…And I’ve never seen one; though I’d happily sign up to an email alert for each new post if I knew how.


Should be quite a tussle at the back maybe even some tangles lets hope not for Manors sake.


– Golden chance for him to shine.
– If he beats Pascal – will be tough, surely he can get a seat at a better team.


He will only be racing against his team mate. Anyone else that he finishes ahead of will be due to mechanical difficulties or other problems. Good luck in F1.


Good luck to Ocon . Alex/ James if possible could you do a possible piece on F1 being part of the of Olympic Games in future and the pros and cons of it as BBC and Autosport have raised this idea and I’d be interested to know JA on F1’s angle on it.


*most motor racing series..


all motoracing series are professionals so it could be tricky to find amateurs to compete.


Olympic participants are now professional


in that case i missed christiano ronaldo’s and lionel messi’s performance during the olympics football matches..


that’ll be interesting but will each nation have an equal chance of entering the competition?


On the BBC website it said all the drivers would have to use identical cars. Given every country would be able to submit 3 drivers to represent it (as per other sports, apparently), this would be a difficulty if it was at F1 level, as it would mean a requirement for, say, at least 30 cars if they were to run the races in heats. Also F1 is, what, 50% driver? The rest is the engineers and strategists behind the cars, so it would be an extremely expensive undertaking for each competing country . I don’t think it’s a goer; however attractive it might appear.

It would perhaps be more doable if all the drivers drove karts.


Nor did Rio !


We’ve had 3 F1 debuts from the very start, and 2 mid-season … that’s a bit higher than average. Surely Ocon will run Wehrlein closer in the races than Haryanto did.


It will be the Mercedes Young Guns dueling it out at the lower end.
Could be Fireworks all the way.


It will be good to see for sure. Wehrlein has a definite advantage of knowing the car in and out, so we’ll have to factor that in.

On an aside, I wish the FIA would change how they record their official results, and also their Lap History’s. The way it is now, is when you’re a lap or 2 down, then there’s no way of determining at a glance the gap between teammates that have both been lapped. You would need to tally up all their laps, to find the final time difference at the flag.

Instead of showing “1 LAP” why not “1L+10.233”? Then we could figure out the gap easily. The way it is now, it’s basically saying that no one cares about the backmarker drivers/teams.

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