French Formula 1 team Renault have confirmed that Esteban Ocon will partner Daniel Ricciardo in 2020.
Ocon, who is currently the Mercedes reserve driver, joins Renault on a multi-year contract. He replaces Nico Hulkenberg, who will now be seeking a drive for next season.
Cyril Abiteboul, team principal of Renault F1, 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.
“In addition to lending his natural talent, 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.”
Frenchman Ocon was Renault’s reserve driver in 2016 and was also a Lotus junior programme member.
“First and foremost, I am very proud to become a Renault driver,” said the 22-year-old. “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.
“It is a responsibility I take very seriously. The confidence they have in me to help the progression of the team is a very positive pressure and I look forward to giving the best of myself.”
Hulk: pity the journey will end
While Ocon will link up with Ricciardo, for Nico Hulkenberg the search is now on for a new team in F1.
The German, who has been linked with Haas, said on Twitter: “It’s a pity that the journey with Renault will end after the season, especially as we haven’t been able to reach our goals yet. We had hoped to take another step forward this season, but unfortunately we haven’t managed that so far.
“It is well known that the choice of drivers is not only about performance, it is a whole bundle of factors. But that’s the way it is. Surely we would all have liked to see it differently… but nevertheless, I’ll keep my focus and try to reach the maximum success for our team in the remaining races!
“With regard to 2020, I am confident to find a good solution, but there is nothing to announce at the moment.”