WATCH: Toto Wolff’s Desperate Call to Renault Boss That Saved Esteban Ocon’s F1 Career

Published 08/07/2021, 9:58 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Hungarian Grand Prix – Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary – August 1, 2021 Alpine’s Esteban Ocon celebrates after winning the race Pool via REUTERS/Florion Goga


Esteban Ocon put up a stellar show around the Hungaroring to secure his first-ever win in Formula 1. This victory comes just three years after it looked like his career was all but over when Racing Point (now Aston Martin) decided to replace the Frenchman with the then Williams driver, Lance Stroll.

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Moreover, with George Russell performing vigorously in 2019, it hardly looked like Ocon could get a second chance. But, thanks to his manager and Mercedes’ team principal, Toto Wolff, he received the much-yearned lifeline.

And how efficiently has Ocon utilized this final opportunity?

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But before going into his success-induced phase with Renault-Alpine, take a look at the life-changing conversation Wolff had with former Renault’s team principal, Cyril Abiteboul.

The phone call that changed Ocon’s story

After joining Mercedes as a reserve driver, there were no hopes of Ocon returning to the grid as a full-time driver. But then arrived Wolff’s phone call with Abiteboul that rewrote Ocon’s F1 script.

While in a car, Wolff, with Ocon alongside him, rang up Abiteboul and started off the conversation. The duo kept the conversation confidential the whole time, considering the Drive to Survive team was shooting the scene. Hence, Wolff and Abiteboul decided to have the talk over dinner.

And it was evident that the scheduled talk was regarding a seat for Ocon in Renault. During the phone call, Wolff also quickly turns the attention to the Frenchman, asking if he had any questions for the Renault boss. And Ocon even cheekily replied, “You know what I want to ask him.”

The rise of Esteban Ocon in F1

Soon after the contractual talks with Renault, Wolff managed to garner a seat for Ocon, who ended up replacing Nico Hulkenberg. Of course, it was a tough 2020 season, especially having to race alongside the pacy Daniel Ricciardo.

However, his career took a drastic turn at the Sakhir Grand Prix. Ocon, amidst the chaos revolving around him, managed to keep his race clean, which led to his first F1 podium. It wasn’t just a podium, but a rather impressive P2, only behind Sergio Perez.

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Formula One F1 – Hungarian Grand Prix – Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary – August 1, 2021 Alpine’s Esteban Ocon celebrates on the podium after winning the race REUTERS/David W Cerny

One might reckon that the race at Sakhir played a substantial role in bolstering Ocon’s confidence. Hence, the French lad returned even stronger to the 2021 season, having to race alongside two-time world champion, Fernando Alonso.

Despite the Spaniard’s brilliance, Ocon hasn’t lost his plot even once and is now ahead in the teammate battle. While Ocon is holding onto P10 with 39 points, Alonso is right behind him, with 38 points in the bag.

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So, how incredible would it be for Ocon to beat a world champion? That is undeniably going to place him in contention for a future seat in Mercedes. But will he beat the in-form Alonso this season?

Watch Story: Toto Wolff Swears, Valtteri Bottas Bares: Funniest Moments From Drive to Survive

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Rohit Kumar

1168 articles

Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.

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