Ocon didn’t expect his early debut

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Belgium, Circuit de Spa-Francorchampsbe

Esteban Ocon admitted he did not expect that he would get such an early chance to make his debut in F1. The Frenchman, however, feels completely ready for this weekend’s Belgian GP. Ocon has had a torrid season in 2016 with many racing activities. As a Mercedes-bound driver he has raced in DTM, but he also has served test duties for Renault F1 Team.

As Manor race driver Rio Haryanto experienced financial problems at the start of the summer and his backing failed to meet the contractual obligations, his place was in doubt. The Banbury-based squad announced earlier this month that it would replace the Indonesian driver with Esteban Ocon.

The former FIA F3 and GP3 champion stated that he feels prepared to step up into the leading motorsport category after intense work completed in the last years.

“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. 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.”

The 19-year-old revealed that he has some regrets that he has to give up his tenure in DTM, but he did not have any other choice as it would have been too complicated to divide his attention.

“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. 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 Mercedes-bound youngster has been training hard since the announcement, but he stated that the training programme has not been vastly different to his previous workout.

“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,” added Ocon.