Eighteen year-old Frenchman Ocon, who has been part of Lotus’s junior programme since 2010, took an unassailable lead in the championship standings this past weekend in Imola, meaning the title is his with three races yet to run.
“I would like to thank Lotus F1 Team and Gravity Management for this superb opportunity,” said Ocon. “The support and back-up I have been given since 2011 has enabled me to win the FIA Formula Three Championship against some strong competition and I can’t wait to get started on the next step of my training. To drive a Formula One car has always been a dream of mine, so I can’t wait to get started.”
Ocon will test the Lotus E20, as used by Kimi Raikkonen to win the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, over the course of two days at Spain’s Valencia circuit on October 22-23. Ahead of this, he will be conducting a simulator programme at Lotus’s Enstone base in the UK.
“Esteban is a tremendous talent for the future,” commented Gerard Lopez, Lotus team principal and chairman. “He has shown himself to be a superb driver as part of our Lotus F1 Team Junior programme, we are proud of him and he truly deserves to be given every opportunity to take his career to the next level.”
“Part of the job of Lotus F1 Team is to consider future drivers through our Lotus F1 Team Junior programme, which has evolved from the longstanding and successful driver development programme run out of Enstone,” added Alan Permane, Lotus’s trackside operations director. “Esteban has really shone this season so it will be rewarding for all to see him in our simulator and then out on track in the E20.”
Over the course of his F3 season to date with Italian squad Prema Powerteam, Ocon has achieved nine wins and 21 podiums. He currently has 454 points with nearest rival, 2015 Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen, on 368. Ocon has also secured the rookie title, currently with 558 points to Verstappen’s 448.