Mercedes development driver Esteban Ocon says he is open to a future in DTM as a means of achieving his longer-term goal of racing in Formula 1.
European F3 champion Ocon became Mercedes’ DTM reserve pilot at the start of the year, dovetailing his duties with a GP3 campaign at ART Grand Prix, which also runs DTM drivers Gary Paffett and Lucas Auer.
But despite his strong Mercedes links, Motorsport.com has learned that he is under serious consideration to become Renault's reserve driver in F1 if the car manufacturer completes its takeover of Lotus.
While the Frenchman is adamant that reaching F1 remains his aim – his most recent outing in grand prix machinery coming in June’s Red Bull Ring test for Force India – he admitted that DTM would be an “interesting route” to the highest level.
“I have been very much involved at all the [DTM] races,” Ocon explained to Motorsport.com.
“During the briefings I communicate with all the engineers to give them my viewpoint, and I have learned a lot about the series, especially how to manage the technical aspects.
“It works a bit like in F1, which surprised me a bit. It’s a great category, and I would be happy to spend a year there.”
With current DTM points leader Pascal Wehrlein in contention for an F1 drive with the newly Mercedes-powered Manor squad, there could well be a vacancy in Mercedes’ eight-strong DTM line-up in 2016.
Ocon has also been linked to the reserve role at Renault, a prospect made more likely if ART boss Frederic Vasseur joins the new works outfit, as has been speculated.
But the Frenchman was coy on the subject, saying: “For the moment I am with Mercedes, it’s not my job to look at something else.”
Interview by Emmanuel Rolland