GP3 leader Esteban Ocon gets Mercedes F1 role for 2016

Mercedes has taken up the option on Esteban Ocon's contract and made him a part of its Formula 1 team, although his exact role has yet to be defined

GP3 leader Esteban Ocon gets Mercedes F1 role for 2016

Ocon, the 2014 European Formula 3 champion, had been a part of Mercedes' driver development programme, but with his path seemingly blocked to the reserve role by Pascal Wehrlein.

The 19-year-old Frenchman has now confirmed he has become a fully-fledged member of the Mercedes driver pool.

This suggested he would replace Wehrlein, with the German potentially moving on to one of the vacant F1 seats at Manor after winning the DTM title.

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff confirmed Ocon's new deal, but said the two drivers' roles were not yet defined.

"Yes, we have taken up the option on him," said Wolff of Ocon, who is fighting Luca Ghiotto for the GP3 title in Abu Dhabi this weekend, taking the points lead with pole on Friday.

"He has been with us now for a while, he has been a test driver in DTM and integrated well, and he is doing a very good job in GP3."

"He is somebody we would very much like to have in the family, this is why we exercise the option, but it doesn't mean we have found a solution for Pascal.

"The current driver market is a bit difficult because most teams have announced their drivers, and it needs to be the right team,"

Wolff said there was a possibility Wehrlein and Ocon could share F1 testing duties alongside DTM programmes.

"Having taken up Esteban we are conscious we need to find a suitable programme for both of them," he added.

"It could well mean both of them end up in a testing role, in a reserve driver role and a DTM role, so it's not done yet."

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