A day after the door closes on Esteban Ocon securing his only realistic option for a drive in 2019 Mercedes have confirmed that he will be the teams test and reserve driver for the 2019 season.
With new ownership at Ocon’s current employer Force India the writing was on the wall for Ocon, Lance Stroll is likely to be announced this weekend as his replacement and with deals falling through with Renault and McLaren it looked bleak for the talented Frenchman.
He has now however got a reserve role with Mercedes with a lot of people expecting him to get the race seat at the factory team for 2020.
Toto Wolff explained more about what 2019 has in store for Ocon:
“The plans are pretty clear, he is going to be pretty close to the Mercedes team – he will be our reserve driver and third driver.
“We hope to do the odd test with him, we are looking at pre-season and in-season but it’s not sorted out yet.
There is still speculation that Ocon will also work as the reserve driver for both Mercedes customers Williams & Force India, Ocon will participate in pre-season & mid-season testing for Mercedes but mileage with it’s customers won’t harm him in his preparation for his almost-certain return in 2020.
What this does do though is put more pressure on Valtteri Bottas to perform in 2019, there is a high chance that he will be winless in 2018 with just one round remaining and has underperformed in the second half of the season. Mercedes don’t want to lose Esteban Ocon as part of their ranks so will push hard to get him a seat for 2020 if they choose not to promote them within their own team.
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