Fernley: Mercedes stand-in role for Ocon out of the question

Force India team principal Bob Fernley says that Mercedes protégé Esteban Ocon would not be released in-season to the German squad, should it required a stand-in driver.

Autosport.com reported that Fernley made clear that under no circumstances would Ocon, who has replaced Nico Hulkenberg at Force India this year, be allowed to move to the world champion team in 2017.

“He’s a Force India driver for two years, and that’s it,” Fernley insisted.

“He can’t substitute for one of their drivers, but if they were asking him to test, I’d be quite pleased to let him do that.”

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Fernley conceded that beyond 2017, anything could happen for Ocon, but it was up to Force India to perform at its best level to entice its drivers to extend their stay.

“We could have a situation with another driver [not connected to another team] where we’ve got him for two years and then he decides to move on,” he said.

“You have to optimise the performance from both the team and driver point of view while you have them.

“If you’re performing at the top, you limit their desire to want to change [teams].”

After showcasing his skills in numerous test sessions in the past two seasons with Force India and Renault, Ocon made his F1 debut at last year’s Belgian Grand Prix with Manor where he replaced the under-funded Rio Haryanto.

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