Newly crowned Formula 3 European champion Esteban Ocon is moving closer to a role with the Lotus Formula 1 team, AUTOSPORT understands.
The Lotus F1 junior, who wrapped up the title at Imola on Sunday to deny Toro Rosso F1 recruit Max Verstappen and Tom Blomqvist, had a seat fitting in an F1 car at Lotus's Enstone base two weeks ago.
The 18-year-old Frenchman will return to Enstone this week for two days in the simulator.
It is therefore expected that Ocon's first mileage in an F1 car should come sooner rather than later.
His management company Gravity - which has shared ownership with the Lotus F1 squad - is believed to have been encouraged by the FIA to give its driver a push to the sport's pinnacle in the same way as Verstappen has been given his chance by Toro Rosso.
Speculation suggests that Ocon, if he does not gain a race seat in F1 next season, will race at the next level up from F3 in either GP2 or Formula Renault 3.5.
Ocon will also test a Ferrari F1 car at Fiorano on October 29, his prize from the FIA for winning the F3 title.
BERGER SAYS OCON SHOULD BE IN F1
FIA Single Seater Commission president Gerhard Berger believes Esteban Ocon should join Max Verstappen on the F1 grid in 2015.
Berger, the architect of the F3 European Championship, said: "It's a pity that Ocon is not yet in the same situation as Verstappen.
"He is as good as him - they are both first-class guys with F1 potential.
"I think Ocon with Gravity behind him should have an even better possibility than Verstappen, and I really hope he gets what he deserves.
"He's a kind of Prost for me - very smooth and clean."