Ocon hopes for more F1 outings after Force India run

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Esteban Ocon ‘hopes’ he can have more F1 outings after he received a late call-up from Force India to drive the VJM08 during this week’s Barcelona in-season test.

The GP3 race winner was not scheduled to run in Spain but Mercedes reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein’s illness led to a line-up reshuffle at customer team Force India, which benefitted Ocon.

The Frenchman, who used to be part of the Lotus F1 Team junior programme before he was picked up by Mercedes, completed 94 laps and set the sixth fastest time, nearly 1.5s behind pace setter Jolyon Palmer.

Asked if his recent deal with the defending champions and his maiden experience at Force India could lead to more F1 outings, Ocon replied: “I hope. Let’s see, first of all I need to focus on GP3, that is my main target to win this championship. It is not my side of the job.

“The deal came this winter, thanks to Lotus for everything they have done in the past for me, picking me up from karting. They let me go to get a good future I hope.

“Thanks to Force India for the test. They are part of the Mercedes family and so am I. I am really happy to belong to this family and hopefully we will go far together.”

Prior to his Wednesday run, Ocon had already sampled F1 machinery when testing for Lotus at the end of last year. The reigning FIA Formula Three European champion thus admits he was fairly unfazed to slot in behind the wheel of the VJM08, even if the opportunity arose only a couple of days after winning on his GP3 debut.

“It has been a pretty busy week, but I am happy with how everything went. I am very happy about the opportunity. It is good to get even more experience in an F1 car and I am happy about this week.

“It is the job of a racing driver to adapt to all circumstances. I have been running an F1 car before so I knew more or less what to expect.”

Click here for Wednesday's gallery from testing at the Circuit de Catalunya

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