Motor racing-Ocon signs up to stay at Alpine F1 until 2024

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Formula One - Azerbaijan Grand Prix - Baku City Circuit, Baku, Azerbaijan - June 3, 2021 Alpine's Esteban Ocon ahead of the Grand Prix REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

(Reuters) - French driver Esteban Ocon will stay with Alpine until 2024, the Renault-owned Formula One team said on Wednesday ahead of his home grand prix at Le Castellet.

The announcement rules out Ocon as a potential Mercedes driver, with the reigning world champions having him under contract as a youngster and reserve before his move to the French team.

"I’m delighted to continue with the team beyond this year and it’s a fantastic feeling to secure my future with Alpine," said the 24-year-old, who joined what was the Renault team at the end of 2019, in a statement.

Ocon finished second in Bahrain's Sakhir Grand Prix last year, his best result to date and first Formula One podium appearance.

His current team mate is Spain's two-times world champion Fernando Alonso, who began his comeback this season on a two-year deal.

Alpine chief executive Laurent Rossi said Ocon had grown in confidence and stature.

"Despite his young age, he is very experienced in Formula One and he’s on a positive trajectory in both his maturity and ability behind the wheel.

"He is a strong asset for us now, and also going forward as we meet the challenge of the new regulations," he added, referring to major changes coming in 2022.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by...)

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