The head of Mercedes’ driver development programme insists Esteban Ocon is ready for F1.
The 19-year-old Frenchman is set to make his grand prix debut this weekend at Spa, after Manor racer Rio Haryanto’s funding dried up.
Ocon is stepping up from being Renault’s reserve driver, and is under consideration for a full race seat for 2017, but he is actually signed up to Mercedes’ driver development programme.
He beat Max Verstappen to the European F3 crown in 2014, and is the reigning GP3 champion.
“We were able to verify in the lower categories that Esteban always responds in the most intense moments in terms of pressure,” said Gwen Lagrue, who since early this year has been Mercedes’ development driver chief.
“In FP1 for Renault this season, he has not made any mistakes,” he told Auto Hebdo magazine, referring to Ocon.
“At Spa, perhaps he will feel a greater emotion from what he has experienced so far, but I have total confidence that he can handle the pressure on F1. He is ready,” Lagrue insisted.