Ocon's future 'will be sorted out soon'

Esteban Ocon (FRA) Sahara Force India F1 Team with the media.
© XPB 

Esteban Ocon says he is convinced he will get the call to drive for the Mercedes factory team at some point in the future, and that he's not worried about what will happen to him next season.

The Mercedes junior won the 2015 GP3 champion and was promoted to Formula 1 the following season, racing for the backmarker Manor F1 team.

Last year he transferred up the grid to Force India, another Mercedes customer squad. He remains with them this season, although its recent financial crisis has put a question mark over the driver line-up plans for 2019.

Ocon had been hoping to get the call from Mercedes for next year, but those hopes were ended when the championship-winning team confirmed it was retaining Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas for another season.

Ocon was understandably disappointed, but added that he was "not surprised" by the announcement. He said that he understood the reasons given to him by the powers that be at Brackley.

"The bosses have plans for me that are 'not yet'," the 21-year-old French driver told Motorsport.com this week. "It's not the plan for now.

"I think they want me to have more experience before I jump in that car. I knew that already. I have targets I have to respect.

"At the moment they are happy with the job I'm doing. It's just a matter of time, I think."

As for next season, new ownership at Force India strongly suggests that Lance Stroll might be handed one of the 2019 race seats at the team. That leaves Ocon and his current team mate Sergio Perez vying for the other spot.

"My future will be sorted out soon," Ocon insisted. "I'm not worried at all.

"Mercedes is doing a great job with my management since I joined them," he continued. "They always put me in the best sporting position for me. I don't have to be worried, it's all going to be okay.

"If I stay here or go somewhere else, I don't know. But I will have a great position for sure next year."

Esteban Ocon (FRA) Sahara Force India F1 VJM11.

Ocon could always end up at Williams, another Mercedes-powered team on the grid. However he might not enjoy the experience of going backward to a squad that has been seriously struggling this season.

Having started his racing career in the Renault stable, Ocon had been linked with a possible move to the factory team at Enstone. However news that Daniel Ricciardo will drive for Renault in 2019 has sealed off that avenue.

A loan to McLaren has also been suggested, where he would most likely partner Carlos Sainz now that Fernando Alonso has announced his retirement from F1.

But most likely, Ocon will stay put at Force India for another season. He's scored 29 points for the team so far this season, just one less than Perez, and has been in the top ten in six of the first 12 races of the season.

"The job we are doing with Force India this year is strong and everyone is happy with that," he said, sounding confident about how things will turn out.

"I'm not in a position where I have to perform at any cost, and take massive risks in the race. I don't feel like that."

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