Esteban Ocon’s mid-term future is tied to Force India, says team boss Bob Fernley, tossing out the prospect of a move for the French driver for 2018.
With the works Renault team still in search of a driver to fill its seat alongside Nico Hulkenberg , pundits have suggested that both Ocon and team mate Sergio Perez remain likely candidates to replace Jolyon Palmer.
The 20-year-old, who has been mighty impressive in his first full season of F1, scoring points in 11 out of 12 races so far, is on a multi-year deal with the Silverstone-based squad and contracted until the end of 2019.
“We’re in a very fortunate position in that, like the top three teams, we’ve got two super-talented drivers, and we’re going to need that in order to battle for fourth place in 2018, or hopefully even go higher,” says Fernley.
“The last thing we want to do is to lose talent. Esteban is contracted with us effectively for three years, but two of them are absolutely secure.
“From a contractual point of view it’s clear, and I don’t think Esteban has got any ideas of wishing to go anywhere else at this point.
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“You’ve got to remember that we identified the potential of Esteban some time ago, and we obviously took the opportunity where others didn’t, including Renault, to sign him last year.
“We’ve now got the benefit of that, and we want to make sure that we optimise that.”
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While Perez has yet to be confirmed at Force India for 2018, discussions appear to be coming to a close, with all signs pointing to an extension of the Mexican’s contract.
“We’re very close with Checo,” says Force India COO Otmar Szafnauer.
“It’s no secret he has had support from some of his Mexican backers ever since he’s been in the sport.
“The difficulty with Checo is you have to almost do two contracts at the same time. With Checo, we’re completely in agreement. We now have to finalise what we do with his backers.”
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