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Ocon grabs Hulkenberg's seat at Force India

2016-11-12 17:19

HEADING TO 'INDIA': Esteban Ocon is swapping his Manor overalls for the ones of the Force India team. Image: AFP / Mark Thompson

Silverstone, England - Esteban Ocon is joining the Force India team next season on a multi-year contract, replacing Nico Hulkenberg after he left to join Formula 1 rival Renault.

The 20-year-old Frenchman is racing for the Manor team this season. There are two races left, starting with this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix (November 11-13).

Youth and experience

Force India confirmed Ocon's signing in a team statement on Thursday, saying he will race alongside Sergio Perez "to form one of the most exciting line-ups on the grid with a blend of youth and experience."

Ocon made his F1 debut at the Belgian GP in late August and has competed in seven races.

READ: Hulkenberg targets Renault wins in 2017

Ocon said: "Spending half a season at Manor Racing has given me some valuable experience and I feel ready for this new opportunity.

Force India team principal Vijay Mallya sees Ocon as "an exceptional talent, as his status as a Mercedes junior (driver) demonstrates."

"Force India has a tradition of investing in young, talented drivers and the arrival of Esteban will bring some fresh energy and motivation to everyone in the team," Mallaya added.

READ: F1 debutant Ocon hopes to emulate record-breaking Verstappen

Ocon won the European Formula 3 championship in 2014. He began this year racing for Mercedes in Germany's DTM touring car championship and was also a reserve driver for the Renault F1 team.

Mercedes head of motorsport Toto Wolff said: "Esteban has the most impressive track record in junior (racing)."

Force India, which is supplied by Mercedes engines, is vying with Williams for fourth in the constructors' championship and holds a nine-point lead heading into this weekend's race.

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