Esteban Ocon: F1 promotion came earlier than expected

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Esteban Ocon never expected his Formula One debut to come this season, but insists he is ready to make the step up to motorsport's top category.

Ocon will replace Rio Haryanto at Manor for the rest of the year and will make his debut at the daunting Spa-Francorchamps circuit next week. The reigning GP3 champion is contracted to Manor's engine supplier Mercedes and will cut short his first season in the DTM -- as well as a Renault testing contract -- to fulfill his ultimate ambition of racing in F1.

"No [I did not expect the step to F1 to come so early], not at all," he said. "But thanks to all the tests and my preparation this year, I feel ready for it. It's helped me a lot.

"But I never thought that I would be offered this opportunity quite so soon. At the same time, I'm very happy about it and I'm looking forward immensely to my first Formula One race weekend in Belgium."

Ocon is following in the career footsteps of new Manor teammate Pascal Wehrlein by making the step from the DTM to F1, but does so with just four points to his name in the German touring car championship. He believes better results were just around the corner, but says he could not pass up the opportunity to compete in F1.

"Yes, I'm a bit sad that I cannot complete the DTM adventure. I've kept raising my level of performance in the course of the season and gained a lot of experience. My pace has been steadily improving. So from that perspective, it's a pity that I'm unable to finish the season with the team.

"But it's not possible to compete simultaneously in both championships. Consequently, I had to decide, and the decision went in favour of Formula One."

Ocon revealed he has been training hard since he learned of his promotion.

"It was nice to relax on vacation [over August] with friends and it helped take my mind off things, but since the announcement was made, of course, I've also been training hard.

"The training isn't all that different from in the DTM. I'm preparing as thoroughly as possible so that I'll be ready for my first F1 race weekend. Before going to Spa, I will meet up with my new team again and we'll go through all the details together."