ART Grand Prix have announced the signing of 18 year-old Esteban Ocon for the 2015 GP3 Series campaign.
Ocon, who already has Formula One experience under his belt after he tested for Lotus F1 Team in Abu Dhabi in 2014, won the European Formula 3 Championship with 9 wins, 15 pole positions and 21 podiums.
As a result of the Frenchman’s European F3 Championship win, in which he beat 2015 Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen, he has received a scholarship from Pirelli of €100,000 to aid Ocon’s career progression.
Ocon is hoping he can put the scholarship fund to good use and aim for the GP3 title in his first year.
“I am very pleased to contest GP3 with ART Grand Prix because it’s the project that I wanted to happen the most,” said Ocon.
“After a great season in 2014 and given the experience and the team’s track record, my ambition is to repeat this in 2015 and win the title.
“There are a few question marks because I have not yet tried out the car, but ART Grand Prix has all the skills, data and talent to allow me to have such high ambitions.”
Team Manager Sebastien Philippe says Ocon will have to adapt to the discipline involved in GP3 but believes the Frenchman has the talent to achieve great things in his debut year.
“ART Grand Prix is pleased to work with Esteban who had an exceptional season in 2014,” said Philippe.
“We should not minimize the magnitude of the task at hand because Esteban is only just starting in GP3 and will have to adapt to the requirements of the discipline in the first race.
“But we trust in his talent and potential to achieve this and to join in the fight for the title.”
On top of Ocon’s €100,000 scholarship fund Pirelli have also announced a €200,000 scholarship fund for the winner of the GP3 title to put towards a GP2 budget.
Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “As well as a €200,000 scholarship for the winner of the GP3 Series to put towards a GP2 budget, we are very pleased to award a prize fund of €100,000 for the European Formula 3 champion to use in GP3, helping ensure a solid path of career progression that is driven by merit and talent alone.
He added: “This fits in perfectly with our philosophy of being more than just a tyre supplier to motorsport, but instead a genuinely proactive partner that creates opportunities for stakeholders to grow at every level.”