Esteban Ocon will move to become test and reserve driver with Mercedes next season after his last race for Force India in this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Frenchman, who is a graduate of the Mercedes junior programme, is being replaced at Force India by Canadian Lance Stroll, son of billionaire Lawrence Stroll who led the consortium that took over the team in August.
His options for a race seat in F1 next year ended on Thursday when Williams confirmed that Poland’s Robert Kubica will be promoted from test driver.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said: “He’s going to be very close to the works team for Mercedes – he’s going to be our reserve driver and third driver.
“We hope to do the odd test with him – we are looking at this season and next season, but that is not sorted out yet. He will spend a lot of time in the simulator and be ready for a seat in 2020.”
Ocon’s move to Mercedes will add to the pressure on Valtteri Bottas, who has signed a one-year deal to continue as teammate to five-time champion Lewis Hamilton next year.