Bob Fernley says Esteban Ocon has same potential as Max Verstappen

Esteban Ocon has the same potential as Max Verstappen, according to Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley.

Fernley likewise confirmed to Sky F1 that the Frenchman signed a two-year contract with the team when he replaced Nico Hulkenberg at the start of 2017.

Verstappen has lit up Formula 1 since entering the sport as a 17-year-old with Toro Rosso in 2015 and he became the youngest-ever winner of a grand prix last year with victory at the Spanish GP on his Red Bull debut.

In 2014, Ocon won the European Formula 3 championship ahead of Verstappen and Fernley trusts he can go on to enjoy similar success in Formula 1.

“I absolutely do [believe he has the potential of Verstappen]. That’s why we brought him on,” Fernley told Sky F1.

“He’s with us for sure for two years and hopefully a little longer.”

“We were very fortunate to be able to have a look at him early on in his career. At that time he dealt very well with the engineers, showed his promise on track and we were very optimistic that we could get him later.”

“He’s fitted in exceptionally well. It’s always very difficult for a new driver to come in, especially when you’ve had consistency with somebody like Nico for so long.”

“But Esteban has been an absolute delight, slotted straight in and it’s like he’s been with us forever.”

Ocon has completed in the points in both of his F1 races, crossing the line in 10th in China and Australia.