Renault have announced the signing of Esteban Ocon for the 2020 Formula 1 season.
The Frenchman will replace Nico Hulkenberg at the team, partnering Daniel Ricciardo next year.
The Oxfordshire-based outfit confirmed the deal is a multi-year agreement that will team the 22-year-old with the highly rated Australian for at least the next two seasons.
Ocon had been in the running for the second seat at Mercedes, but after the announcement that Valtteri Bottas would remain at the team alongside Lewis Hamilton, a switch to Renault was his next likely destination.
“Over his F1 career Esteban has experienced the highs and lows of the sport, and fully understood the need to seize every possible chance,” team boss Cyril Abiteboul said, per Autosport.com.
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“In addition to lending his natural talent, Esteban’s aim will be to focus his natural energy and drive, both of which have been intensified by a year away from racing, it is then up to us to infuse them into the next phase of the team’s progress.”
Mercedes protege Ocon drove for Manor and Force India/Racing Point before stepping up to Grand Prix racing midway through 2016.
However, he was left off the grid this year after his Racing Point seat was taken by Lance Stroll and a mooted switch to Renault fell through when the manufacturer signed Ricciardo for 2019.
In a statement on his move to Renault, Ocon said he was proud to be racing for the French manufacturer.
“First and foremost, I am very proud to become a Renault driver,” Ocon said.
“I have grown up at Enstone, starting with Lotus in 2010 and then with Renault.
“Secondly, I am pleased that a team with big ambitions has entrusted me with the opportunity to once again demonstrate my skills at the highest level of F1.”
The deal leaves Hulkenberg without a race seat for 2020, but rumours have linked the German with a potential switch to Haas in place of Romain Grosjean.
The 32-year-old has also been mooted as an outside contender to partner Dutch superstar Max Verstappen at Red Bull.
“I wish to thank Nico for his phenomenal involvement and massive contribution to our progress over the past three seasons,” Abiteboul added.
“When Nico decided to join us, the team was ninth. He brought us to fourth place last year and was classified seventh in the drivers’ championship.
“The imminent end of his contract made this decision a difficult one as Nico has been a pillar of this progress.”News Now - Sport News