While it remains unclear where Esteban Ocon will be racing next season – if anywhere at all – his fellow Formula 1 drivers have heaped praise on the Force India man, with Lewis Hamilton hailing him as ‘exceptional’.
The latest rumours suggest the Silverstone-based team - who recently came out of administration and are now racing under new identity Racing Point Force India for the remainder of the season – could replace Ocon with Williams driver Lance Stroll, whose father Lawrence led the takeover.
That potential change has raised question marks over Ocon’s future next year, after the Frenchman saw a 2019 move to Renault fall through – and with teams beginning to confirm their line-ups, he’s seemingly running out of options.
McLaren were another team linked with a move for the Mercedes-affiliated driver, but the Woking squad have now confirmed their line-up, while Williams remain an option should Stroll leave Grove. Sauber, Haas and Toro Rosso are the other three teams yet to announce their 2019 partnerships.
But at 21 years old, Ocon is among the most talented young drivers on the grid and his performances in the last two races, which have marked Force India’s new era, have made clear his undoubted talent – and championship leader Hamilton hopes he has a race seat next year.
“I’ve always been a supporter of Esteban,” said Hamilton. “I think how he conducts himself and how he performs on track is exceptional.