Esteban Ocon says a weight has been taken off his shoulders now that he has signed a new long-term contract with Alpine.
There has speculation about the Frenchman’s future on the grid throughout the year, with regular rumours of Pierre Gasly replacing him once his contract expired at the end of the season.
They have now though, as Ocon has been handed a new contract that will ensure he remains an Alpine driver until the end of 2024 at the least.
The 24-year-old does admit that he feels more relaxed now that he doesn’t have to worry about his future.
“Yeah, it feels good, it is a weight off the shoulders I would say, so I can only focus on the performance and what matters now, [as] the rest is secured,” he said at Paul Ricard.
“I’ve felt good with the team, well-integrated, the atmosphere is fantastic and we’re working nicely.
“Obviously we have a great chance of doing good things next year with the new regulations so it’s definitely a perfect place for me to be staying.
“It’s the longest deal I’ve ever had in motorsport in my whole career. So coming from where I was a couple of years ago it is an awesome position to be in so I’m really pleased.”
Before joining Alpine, then known as Renault, Ocon had strong connections to Mercedes.
He was a part of the German’s team development programme from 2015 onwards and was their full-time test and reserve driver in 2019.
Due to that, his stronger performance this year coupled with Valtteri Bottas’ struggles and uncertainty over Lewis Hamilton’s future have led him to be linked with a move there.
However, while he says that he does still have some links to the team, he has stated that he is fully committed to his current employer for the entirety of his contract.
“[I’m] completely a full Alpine driver for the next three years, that’s where I stand at the moment,” he added.
“For sure there is still connections with Mercedes but the job I’m doing is with Alpine, and fully Alpine, but there will be nothing and no interaction with the Mercedes Grand Prix team.”