Monday, August 29, 2016

The Other Esteban...




Renault F1 Sport test driver Esteban Ocon at this year's German GP. (Image source: motorsport.com)
Hmm? Musta been lunchtime when I began this 'cause reading that word Esteban made me think 'O Cinnabon; Hya!

This past weekend at Spa, another new F1 Hotschue' and Young Gun, not to be Cornfuzed with Mexico's Esteban Gutierrez, currently driving for Haas F1. Instead French teenager Esteban Ocon made his Formula 1 debut for Manor Racing as Rio Haryanto's replacement after the Indonesian's funding ran out after Hungary.

As I'll confess I know virtually nothing 'bout the 19yr old from Évreux, France, other than he'd previously been tipped as le Reggie's (Renault) Test & Reserve Driver on loan from Mercedes.

although seems like I've read somewheres' that thee young Esteban gave Max "Dutchboy" Verstappen a run for his money... As Ocon, who was competing in DTM, is part of the Mercedes Driver Academy, a la Pascal Wehrlein, the reigning DTM champion.

Ocon won multiple Karting titles before making his single seater debut in 2010 in Formula Renault. Then he won the 2014 FIA European F3 championship and Rookie Honours for Prima Powerteam en route to nine wins. Finishing ahead of the aforementioned Verstappen, who actually finished third overall, nine points behind the unheralded Tom Blomqvist, the series runner-up.

Next Esteban continued his winning ways by securing the 2015 GP3 crown for ART, before being loaned to Renault F1 this season, where he's made multiple Friday morning (Free Practice) FP1 outings for the Enstone squad along with testing duties for his employer Mercedes, where his Day Job previously was chauffer for the Mercedes AMG DTM squad.

thus, purely as speculation upon my part, it's easy to ARSE-Sume that Ocon like Wehrlein is being groomed for a future Formula 1 career with a bigger Fish in the pond than Manor.

And if race drives open up at Force India and Williams next year, with Wehrlein taking one, don't be surprised if Esteban lands at Team Willy' as Bloody 'JENSE's team-mate next year. Since after all, Manor runs Mercedes lumps'; Err PU's (Power Unit) and major components from Williams F1, i.e.; running gear and suspension bits.

As I can see Ocon's Manor gig' being akin to Daniel Ricky' Ricciardo's apprenticeship at the forlorn and deposed Hispania, when Red Bull wanted the Aussie to garner seat time before moving onto Toro Rosso fulltime. With Ocon also being tipped as a Works Renault F1 driver in 2017.

As will Wehrlein and Ocon become the Silver Arrows new Driver lineup in 2019? Only time will tell. Oh Yeah, that's right, Mercedes won't be here in '19; NOT! As pretty certain they're tied to a Concord agreement contract thru 2020 like everyone else on the Grid.

Whilst for purely selfish reasons, I'm glad that this year's Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi isn't rushing back into F1, even though the lure must be strong. Rossi's gotta ask himself if he wants to run at the tail of the Formula 1 grid practicing moving over for the Blue flags or keep a winning drive in Indy Cars next year...


UPDATE

Upon completing this story, I've since stumbled into the news that Balardi Auto Racing Indy Lights rookie Felix Rosenqvist, a three time Lights winner this year has since been tabbed to replace Ocon's vacated ART Grand Prix German Touring Car drive.

As the Swede' made his DTM debut recently at Moscow Raceway, where he scored one point and will remain in DTM, along with moving onto Formula E for the forthcoming 2016-17 season. Departing from Lights for the remainder of this season due to his Mercedes commitments.

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