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Who is the most naturally talented and gifted driver on the current Formula 1 grid? This is one question that is tossed around every so often in the F1 paddock. The most recent person to take a dig at this is Esteban Ocon, the star driver for Alpine. And while there are currently three Formula 1 world champions on the grid, namely Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, and Max Verstappen, the Frenchman conveniently sidestepped two of them to name Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc as the most talented drivers.

Now, given the fact that Esteban Ocon has a history of racing alongside both Verstappen and Leclerc since their junior karting days, it is understandable that he would consider those two as the top drivers. However, leaving out a 7-time world champion like Lewis Hamilton and a double world champion like Fernando Alonso, who also happened to be Ocon’s teammate in the past, was quite an eyebrow-raiser for many.

When asked by Jake Humphrey in a recent podcast to name the most talented driver on the grid other than himself, Ocon responded without hesitation, Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen. I have raced with them, well with Charles since 2005, and Max 2010, and no matter the conditions, we were always neck to neck or always in the top three. So, they.

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Ocon’s remarks comes at a crucial time as the F1 driver market is set up for a huge shakeup with 12 drivers, including Esteban himself, are nearing the end of their contracts in 2024. The reason that holds significance is that Ocon thinks it might be on the cards for him to replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes.

Esteban Ocon has hinted that he still has strong ties with Mercedes

After Hamilton’s move to Ferrari was made public, one of the most coveted seats in F1 officially became vacant for 2025. And it’s natural for any driver to want to be in that team. Unsurprisingly, Esteban Ocon came forward during Alpine’s 2024 car launch event and confirmed he still has close ties with Mercedes amidst speculation surrounding his potential move to the team in 2025.

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He emphasized his dedication to Alpine for the current season, stating, I obviously still have strong links with Mercedes. I’m still a Mercedes junior driver. That is no secret to anyone. But I’m totally dedicated to Alpine this year. I’ve got 24 races to get through and we’ll see where we end up. Formula 1 is fierce, a lot of things can happen, as we can see, but I’m ready to take on the challenge.”

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READ MORE: Tifosi Elevating Lewis Hamilton to “God” Status Will Help Break Ferrari’s 17-Year-Old Championship Curse

Who do you think has the best chance of grabbing the Mercedes seat in 2025? Will it be someone from the current grid or are we going to see a new face in the Brackley squad? Share your insights in the comments down below.

Written by

Veerendra Vikram Singh

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Veerendra Singh is a Motorsport writer at EssentiallySports who specializes in F1 coverage. Having followed the sport for more than 12 years, Veerendra excels in covering trend-setting articles and has covered Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Toto Wolff, and Charles Leclerc extensively during the 2023 F1 season. His Dale Earnhardt Jr post regarding the North Wilkesboro Speedway was shared by Save The Speedway Twitter account.
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Edited by

Ariva Debnath