Ocon poised for Renault reserve role

© XPB 

GP3 champion Esteban Ocon is poised to be named as Renault's reserve driver for 2016, F1i understands.

F1i's French site reported at the weekend that Ocon was in line for a potential switch back to Enstone should Pastor Maldonado lose his drive to Kevin Magnussen, with the Dane having originally been in talks over a reserve role.

Following Maldonado's announcement that he will not be on the grid in 2016 as a result of sponsorship issues between Renault and PDVSA, Magnussen is set to replace the Venezuelan. This in turn has opened up the reserve seat for Ocon.

Currently under contract with Mercedes, Ocon started his professional career under the guidance of Gravity and carried out his first steps in F1 driving a Lotus-Renault in Abu Dhabi in 2014 (pictured above).

Total is keen to promote a French driver, and an agreement is expected to be found with Mercedes to free Ocon from his commitments, knowing that the German manufacturer can only offer the Frenchman a DTM program in 2016 having been struggling to place its own reserve driver Pascal Werhlein in F1.

F1i understands Frederic Vasseur - who is expected to become Renault team principal and co-owns the ART team which Ocon drove for in GP3 last year - has been playing the go-between with Mercedes to free Ocon from his contract. Vasseur has strong links to Mercedes due to the ART DTM team.

Ocon won last season's GP3 championship in Abu Dhabi, while the year before he took the European F3 title, beating Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen.

Renault will announce its driver line-up as part of a team launch in Paris on Wednesday.

Additional reporting by Pierre Van Vliet

Force India winter diary part four - Technical Director

Feature: How to fuel success in F1

Key dates for the 2016 F1 season

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter