Esteban Ocon could get Force India F1 reserve role in 2019

Force India boss Otmar Szafnauer says he'd be happy to retain Esteban Ocon in a Formula 1 reserve and simulator driver role in 2019

Esteban Ocon could get Force India F1 reserve role in 2019

The Frenchman is currently without a race seat for next year due to the imminent arrival of Lance Stroll at the Silverstone outfit, and his last remaining option is Williams.

Retaining his links with Force India would at least allow him to stay in touch with developments, although he could also perform a similar role with the works Mercedes team.

"Hopefully he'll find something else," said Szafnauer. "But we'll help him, he's very good.

"You bide your time for a year. How long was [Kimi] Raikkonen out [competing in the World Rally Championship in 2010-11]? Two years?

"He came back and still did well. Esteban is young enough and talented enough."

Asked by Motorsport.com if the team could give Ocon testing mileage as well as simulator running Szafnauer said: "That could happen too.

"None of that's decided, but if you're [doing] simulator work, the only way to really develop the simulator and the car is to be in the car every once in a while, because you're actually simulating the car.

"You need to be current, otherwise your usefulness as a simulator driver decreases."

Szafnauer said Ocon should not try to find a seat in another category.

"My personal opinion is if he doesn't find one for next year, but there's a good opportunity in F1 for the following year, I would not do another racing series," he said.

"But I don't advise him on that, he has other people, that's just my opinion."

Ocon is not too excited by the prospect of a year on the sidelines, and he still has his sights set on the Williams seat.

"We'll see what's the solution," he told Autosport. "Of course, third driver is not a great thing.

"But the most mileage I can get if I'm not driving next year is always a help.

"At the moment I'm still looking for a drive for next year."

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