A n the beginning it was a three-way battle for the second cockpit Force India. Esteban Ocon versus Felipe Nasr and Jolyon Palmer. You could also say: talent against two good Formula 1 drivers with money. Nasr and Palmer would have brought a double-digit million sum into the marriage. At Ocon there is only one discount for the Mercedes engines. In the range of 3 million euros.
Force India remained true to itself. “Since this team has been in existence, we've always chosen the best available driver on the market and never the driver with the most money. For us, only performance counts, ”says team manager Andy Stevenson, explaining the choice. “They have always done well with this strategy,” says the outgoing Force India pilot Nico Hülkenberg.
Team owner Vijay Mallya confirms: “We have had Esteban on our radar for years. He tested for us last year. His performance in this test confirmed that we should give him the cockpit alongside Sergio. At Force India it is a tradition to invest in young and talented drivers. ”
GPS data convince Force India
But that is not all. Force India didn't just look at the results at Ocon. The scouts dissected Ocons missions at Manor down to the last detail. “We compared his GPS data with that of Wehrlein and therefore knew very well about the true picture,” says one at Force India.
It was taken into account that the long Ocon is not comfortable in it Manor sits. That won't happen at Force India. The 2017 chassis was designed for the equally long Nico Hülkenberg.
Force India has also researched why Ocon came back behind Pascal Wehrlein in the last two qualifications. In Austin it was Manor's fault. The team sent Ocon too late for the last qualification attempt. As a result, Ocon had to hit the tires too hard to cross the finish line before the checkered flag. In Mexico, Ocon drove with an older front wing. The new one had a crack, and Manor only had two copies in his luggage.
Wolff praises: 'Talent comes before money'
The last component in the driver's puzzle was a test by Ocon in the simulator. Afterwards it was clear to Force India that the 20-year-old Frenchman would succeed Hülkenberg. Ocon is looking forward to the chance: “I'm thrilled. What a chance. I know Force India from my test last year. Thanks to Manor and Mercedes, I was able to do half aGaining experience in Formula 1 for a season. I feel ready. '
' I will spend many days in the factory for the next few months, working in the simulator and meeting the engineers. I've been working towards this opportunity my whole life and I will grab it with both hands. ”
The future Force India driver will remain in the Mercedes pool. Mercedes Motorsport boss Toto Wolff praised: “Esteban has an impressive list of successes and he is also an extraordinary personality outside of the car. Force India knows how to work with young drivers and has once again shown the courage and vision to take a talent on board. It is a positive sign for Formula 1 that talent counts more than money. ”