Earlier, Auto Bild reported that Mercedes reserve driver Esteban Ocon was primed for a 2020 Renault seat. However, French media has countered that claim with one of their own, saying that Nico Hulkenberg is holding up the deal.
In addition to that, AutoBild revealed that Mercedes were keen to retain Valtteri Bottas alongside Lewis Hamilton for a fourth year successive year. So, Toto Wolff needed a berth for Ocon, who was given the Mercedes reserve role.
The Frenchman was left seatless after Lance Stroll took his Racing Point seat. In addition to that, his Plan B, a move to Renault was blocked by the team nabbing Daniel Ricciardo. Understandably, Toto Wolff was furious at Cyril Abiteboul for breaking a “gentlemen’s agreement” with regard to signing Ocon.
The good news is that Wolff’s trust in Renault seems to have been restored. So, in other words, Esteban Ocon could be expected to partner Ricciardo in 2020.
It is worth noting though that RMC Sport reported that a deal is yet to be finalised, but negotiations are ongoing. As it turns out, Renault are keen to see Hulkenberg’s 2020 future in Formula 1 secure, before releasing him from his contract.
Nico Hulkenberg has been with Renault since 2017 and has helped in their development. His aid has been crucial for an outfit that is targeting a championship chase in 2021.
So far, the veteran German has been touted to join Haas to replace Romain Grosjean. The Frenchman has not exactly won many favours with his performance, as the American outfit is losing patience with him. On the other hand, a seat at Williams could also be on offer if they decide not to renew Robert Kubica’s contract.
Apparently, with Ocon on loan from Mercedes, it could be beneficial for Renault in their quest. The report states: “The French manufacturer is very interested in the ‘Tricolour’ driver, who has the advantage of being fast, reliable and inexpensive. Indeed, with the very large salary paid to Daniel Ricciardo, Renault would not be against a reduction of its payroll.”
“By taking Ocon instead of Hulkenberg, it would be done. When Renault returned to Formula 1, they had made the German driver a priority and therefore overpaid a little.”