Esteban Ocon joins Force India for 2017

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Force India has confirmed Frenchman Esteban Ocon will partner Sergio Perez for the 2017 season after signing a "multi-year contract" with the team.

Ocon, who debuted for Manor at the Belgian Grand Prix this summer, is a Mercedes junior driver and had previously been linked to a seat at Renault. However, following Nico Hulkenberg's move to the French manufacturer, Ocon has filled the German's place at the Mercedes customer team instead.

The highly-rated Ocon, who won European Formula 3 in 2014 and GP3 in 2015 and tested for Force India in Austria last year, is relishing the opportunity to move up the grid.

"I'm very excited to join Sahara Force India," he said. "I know the team quite well already because I was a test driver last year and I'm really looking forward to working with everybody at Silverstone once again. I'm still relatively new to Formula One, but spending half a season at Manor Racing has given me some valuable experience and I feel ready for this new opportunity with Sahara Force India.

"The next few months will be very busy as I do all I can to prepare for the challenge ahead of me. It means lots of days at the factory, working on the simulator and building relationships with the engineers and everybody in the team.

"It's something I've been working towards my whole life and I intend to grab this opportunity with both hands so that I can deliver the results the team expects from me. I want to say 'thank you' to everybody at Manor and especially to Mercedes-Benz for their support and belief in me. I can't wait for 2017 and my first full season racing in Formula One."

Force India owner Vijay Mallya says the signing continues the team's tradition of opting for talent over drivers with significant financial backing.

"It's a pleasure to welcome Esteban as our new race driver," he said. "He's an exceptional talent, as his status as a Mercedes Junior demonstrates, and I have no doubt he will flourish inside our team. We've had our eye on Esteban for a number of years and have followed his progress through the junior categories where he delivered outstanding results.

"We ran him in the car last year during testing and his performance convinced us that he is more than capable of racing alongside Sergio. Sahara Force India has a tradition of investing in young, talented drivers and the arrival of Esteban will bring some fresh energy and motivation to everyone in the team."