Renault have confirmed that Esteban Ocon will join them for the 2020 Formula 1 season, replacing Nico Hulkenberg.
Ocon had been in contention for the drive at Mercedes, but it was announced earlier today that they had re-signed Valtteri Bottas for next year, ending his hopes of driving for the current world champions.
In a press conference issued by the team, Ocon said: “First and foremost, I am very proud to become a Renault driver. I have grown up at Enstone, starting with Lotus in 2010 and then with Renault.
“I am very attached to this team and everyone who works there; they are the ones who opened the doors of top level motorsport for me.
“Secondly, I am pleased that a team with big ambitions has entrusted me with the opportunity to once again demonstrate my skills at the highest level of F1.”
Having been on the sidelines for this year as a Mercedes Junior and desperate to get back to the grid for 2020, Mercedes have agreed to release Ocon so that he could link up with Renault, and partner Daniel Ricciardo.
Ocon had nearly signed for Renault last year, and though a deal was done, only for Renault to change their mind at the last minute and sign Ricciardo.
The 22-year-old has signed a two year deal with the French team, in a move that underlines Renault’s ambition to close the gap to the top three teams.
Renault Team Principal, Cyril Abiteboul said: “We are very happy to work with Esteban for the next two seasons. Over his F1 career Esteban has experienced the highs and lows of the sport, and fully understood the need to seize every possible chance.
“Esteban’s aim will be to focus his natural energy and drive, both of which have been intensified by a year away from racing. It is then up to us to infuse them into the next phase of the team’s progress.
“He has shown his ability to score points, has great professionalism on and off the track, plus his recent experience as reserve driver to the current world champions will be a valuable asset to the development of our entire team.”
The announcement signals the end of Nico Hulkenberg’s time with Renault and that this stage he has not confirmed a deal elsewhere, although he is in contention for a seat at Haas.
Paying tribute to the German’s time at Renault, Abiteboul commented: “I wish to thank Nico for his phenomenal involvement and massive contribution to our progress over the past three seasons.
“When Nico decided to join us, the team was ninth. He brought us to fourth place last year, and was classified seventh in the drivers’ championship.
“The imminent end of his contract made this decision a difficult one as Nico has been a pillar of this progress.”