Esteban Ocon says he believes racing in DTM for Mercedes this season will prepare him better for a possible Formula 1 future than racing in GP2.
Reigning GP3 champion Ocon was confirmed last week as a Mercedes DTM driver, a role he will dovetail with being Renault reserve driver in F1.
And the Frenchman says that racing in the tin-top series is an ideal step up from both a driving perspective and in terms of racing for a full works outfit.
“My objective is F1, but I’m focused on my DTM campaign,” Ocon told Motorsport.com. “For me, it’s a category which is still a great gateway to F1; I prefer to be in DTM to GP2.
“The DTM car is nice to drive and it’s not too dissimilar to an F1 car, in terms of driving, with enormous grip and powerful brakes.
“But equally in terms of professionalism, it’s excellent preparation for the highest level.”
"Not here to make up the numbers"
Ocon combined his GP3 commitments with being a DTM reserve driver for Mercedes last year, deputising for an unwell Dani Juncadella during first practice at Hockenheim.
Although the Spaniard subsequently recovered, Ocon says he is confident everything he has learned will make him a contender to score points immediately when the season gets under way.
“I have learn a lot this last year with the Mercedes team,” said the 19-year-old. “I’ve spent quite a bit of time trackside, and I’ve tried to give my views to the engineers.
“Now I can’t wait to put all this into practice. The first target is to score points, then progress and take pole position and wins for Mercedes. I’m not here to make up the numbers."
Asked if he was concerned at being the only rookie in this year’s DTM field, Ocon added: “Not really, because I won the last two series I raced in [European F3 and GP3], and each time I was a rookie.”
Interview by Emmanuel Rolland