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via Reuters

“I obviously still have strong links with Mercedes. I’m still a Mercedes junior driver, that is no secret to anyone,” Esteban Ocon told Sky Sports at Alpine’s car launch in February. Moreover, with Alpine being termed ‘meaningless’ after a poor start to 2024, the French Driver’s exit chances stay high. And this can now become a reality after his latest statement on his contract talks with rivals.

Lewis Hamilton‘s transfer to Ferrari created a black hole at Mercedes that many drivers want to get sucked into. Among all, Ocon seemed like a prime candidate considering his history with them. He was a junior driver for the Silver Arrows and still has a great relationship with Team Principal Toto Wolff. Elaborating on such rumors in the ‘High Performance’ podcast, Ocon revealed having “chats” outside Alpine.

“It is an important year in my career and I want to do the best I can,” said Ocon. “I don’t want any regrets at the end of the year. It’s gonna be a lot of work on and outside the track. There’s going to be chats obviously because I am in the last year of my contract (with Alpine).”

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“Have the chats begun already?”, the host interrupted. Esteban Ocon let out a chuckle before responding. Yeah, for sure the things (chats) have started already but it’s normal for everyone. I am still not a big fan of these chats but I am in a different place than I was in 2019 (when I was Mercedes’ reserve) – I am a race winner, a podium finisher. We have a lot of arguments in my favor.”

Talk about sending the rumor mill into a frenzy! It also seemed like high time before some silly season news from within Alpine came out. Because neither of their drivers is happy with the car.

Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly ‘disappointed’ with Alpine’s degrading performance

Alpine has had the worst performance graph in the current grid. If 2024 ends the way it has started for them, they will probably end the season P10 with 0 points to their name. In the opening two race weekends, no points have been scored. Moreover, Pierre Gasly couldn’t even begin the Saudi Arabian GP owing to a gearbox failure.

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Esteban Ocon already knew about the severe lack of pace “in the simulator in December,” as per RacingNews365. “I think that’s when we realized that there was some issues that we needed to fix. And you know, that’s probably when we did realize it,” he reportedly said.

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His French teammate isn’t too happy either it seems. “It’s been two difficult days for the team and I’m just feeling for everyone,” Gasly said after his formation lap retirement in Jeddah. “We’re obviously going through a very difficult time, everyone’s put in a lot of effort, a lot of energy. Unfortunately today we’re losing quite important track time,” the driver further opined.

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The Enstone outfit has two Grand Prix-winning drivers. Yet, their A524 won’t allow either of them to even finish in the Top 10. In such a scenario, Ocon signing with a rival team seems like the best solution for him.

Written by

Yash Kotak

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Yash is an F1 writer at EssentiallySports. With a strong passion for communicating through written word and a keen interest in the world of motorsports, he thoroughly enjoys being a fan of F1 and covering it for other fans. Ever since he watched the 'INSIDE TRACKS' episode covering the 2018 German Grand Prix, he has fallen in love with the intriguingly complex world of F1.
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Edited by

Ariva Debnath