2014 FIA European Formula 3 Champion Esteban Ocon will make his Formula 1 free practice debut in Abu Dhabi with the Lotus F1 Team.
Ocon won nine races driving for Prema Powerteam on his way to winning the Euro F3 title, as well as twelve other podium finishes, and he beat Briton Tom Blomqvist and 2015 Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen to the crown.
The Frenchman, part of the Lotus teams’ young driver programme, recently participated in a two-day test with the team at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in a 2012 Lotus E20, as well as a day testing with Scuderia Ferrari at Fiorano, but this will be his first time driving a 2014 machine.
“It is a fantastic opportunity for me to drive in my first session at a Grand Prix and I am tremendously grateful to Lotus F1 Team and Gravity Sport Management,” said Ocon. “The practice session on Friday will be my first time driving the Yas Marina circuit and my first time in the latest generation Formula 1 car, so there will be a lot to learn, especially as I will be completing the team’s programme for the free practice session.”
Deputy Team Principal Federico Gastaldi is excited to give Ocon the opportunity to test with the team in Abu Dhabi, with the team rating the Frenchman extremely highly.
“Esteban is a superb young talent and we are particularly excited to give him this opportunity,” said Gastaldi. “He impressed all our engineers when he drove for us in Valencia, but this will be another step in his development programme.
“It’s great for us a team to support developing drivers, especially one with the potential of Esteban.”
Ocon will return to the car in the post-Abu Dhabi test, where he will drive on the first day of the test next Tuesday, before he hands the car over to regular test driver Charles Pic for day two on Wednesday.
“For the test day we will have far more time me to learn and develop with the car so I’m really looking forward to Abu Dhabi,” added Ocon.