Mercedes' Wolff confirms Ocon reserve status for 2019

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Toto Wolff confirmed on Friday in Abu Dhabi that Esteban Ocon will be the Mercedes team's official reserve driver for 2019.

Despite Wolff's efforts to secure a spot on next year's grid for Ocon, the outgoing Force India driver will spend his season on the sidelines, albeit as the Silver Arrows squad's trusty back-up.

"The plans are pretty clear," said Wolff, speaking at the team principal's media conference at Yas Marina.

"He is going to be pretty close to the Mercedes team - he will be our reserve driver and third driver.

"We hope to do the odd test with him, we are looking at pre-season and in-season but it's not sorted out yet.

"He will do a lot of time in the simulator to make sure that he is ready."

However, as a Mercedes contracted driver, Ocon could also possibly inherit a development or reserve role with the German manufacturer's engine customers, Williams and Force India.

One man who will likely be keeping an eye on the situation next year is Valtteri Bottas, whose contract with Mercedes expires at the end of 2019 and who will need to up his game if he aspires to remain with the Brackley team beyond next season.

Earlier this week, the Finn, who hasn't won a single race this year, admitted to being disappointed by his current campaign. But he also said he wasn't worried about the future or thinking about the potential threat of Ocon being handed his race seat for 2020.

"In Formula 1 there is all sorts of talk, and it's only natural that every driver wants to use every opportunity," he said.

"But it's not my job to worry about that. I have an excellent relationship with everyone on the team, including Toto. We hide nothing from one another.

"If next year I achieve my goals and the goals of the team, then everything will be fine. If not, the team will rightly decide that I am not performing well enough.

"That's the way it should be in sports," said Bottas.

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