Mercedes junior driver Esteban Ocon will be racing with the Renault F1 team in the 2020 season. So, the German outfit has banned the Frenchman from the team garage this weekend in Abu Dhabi. This is usually done so that a driver cannot spill any potential secrets to a rival team.
However, Mercedes has not completely cut ties with him, as he will still be managed by team principal Toto Wolff.
The 23-year old, has also been released early by Mercedes in order to get an early taste of the 2019 Renault in the post-grand prix Abu Dhabi test next week.
However, he cannot touch the 2020 car just yet, according to his conversation with Canal Plus: “Technically no, I do not have that right. But we are discussing, and I have been able to fit my seat, prepare myself a little and go in the simulator.”
Ocon continued, “That’s why I do not have the right to be in the (Mercedes) garage this weekend. We are preparing to test next week and I’m lucky to have two days, which is rare. Even Daniel (Ricciardo) did not have this chance last year, so it’s going to be a good preparation for next season.”
It was also note-worthy that according to Auto Hebdo, Ocon’s availability for Abu Dhabi was “a condition” of his 2020 deal. This was after Red Bull refused to give Daniel Ricciardo an early release back in late 2018 when the Australian left Red Bull.
Toto Wolff also opened up on why Ocon was not slotted in alongside Lewis Hamilton for 2020. He said, “In general, he has matured as a pilot and deserves to be in a team like Mercedes, with a winning car.”
“But I couldn’t refuse Renault’s offer. It would have been a risk to put him as a starter alongside Lewis.”
“We are a team that fights for the Championship and I think it would not be ideal to have put so much pressure on it. Renault is the ideal solution for him right now.”