Even though Mercedes-AMG Petronas has just won the Formula 1 Constructors title this year, the German outfit is already reloading for next season, signing two drivers currently still on the grid in reserve roles for 2019.
The bigger of the two signings is undoubtedly Ocon, who lost his seat with Racing Point Force India to Lance Stroll, following Stroll’s father’s involvement with rescuing the team financially, as reported by Autosport.
Ocon has always had Mercedes‘ support, and with Williams’ announcement of Robert Kubica as its second driver for 2019, it was clear that nobody was going to give the young French driver a spot – which is surprising considering his excellent performance this year.
Ahead of this weekend’s season finale in Abu Dhabi, Ocon is 11th in the Drivers Standings, with a total of 45 points – better than the likes of Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly, who secured 2019 seats with Ferrari and Red Bull respectively.
“He is going to be pretty close to the Mercedes team – he will be our reserve driver and third driver,” said Mercedes’ motorsport chief Toto Wolff. “We hope to do the odd test with him, we are looking at pre-season and in-season but it’s not sorted out yet.”
Meanwhile, sharing simulator duties at Mercedes with Ocon will be McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne, who is also making what he hopes is a temporary switch to Formula E.
“I’ll be doing the simulator work in the F1 team for them, with Mercedes,” said Vandoorne. “That’s an exciting part for me as well, to still be involved in the F1 world, to be with the world champions as well.”
“It will be a very interesting move. I’m sure I can bring them a lot of fresh ideas, but also for me to see the differences there are, because I’ve only been at work with McLaren in F1.”
Vandoorne will have his final race with McLaren in Abu Dhabi, from where he will be “going straight into Formula E,” without an off-season.