Mercedes team boss, Toto Wolff, has admitted to the fact that Renault signing Daniel Ricciardo left them in the lurch with regards to their academy driver, Esteban Ocon. The Frenchman was rumoured to have secured a seat with Renault for 2019.
However, Ricciardo shocked everyone, including Red Bull boss, Horner, who thought he was actually joking, when he announced the move. Turns out Horner was not the only boss left baffled.
“In Budapest we thought his [Ocon] future was clear,” said Wolff. “But it all changed within 48 hours.”
“There is no point in complaining. Renault getting Ricciardo was a no-brainer. They had to go for it.”
Wolff sympathized with his driver and revealed that they were pushing to secure him a seat as soon as possible, with Lance Stroll looking likely to move to Force India and Perez to partner him.
“It’s unfortunate for Esteban, but we are continuing to help him to find a seat. There is a lot of interest and I’m very optimistic about the future,” stated Wolff.
The efforts by Mercedes seemed to have bore fruit when McLaren were rumoured to be interested in signing Ocon to partner Sainz, who Ricciardo will be replacing next year at Renault.
However, in a hilarious incident, Ocon has revealed that he failed an important test to drive the McLaren- the seat fitting test. Apparently, his 1.86m frame was too tall for their current specifications.
Spanish news outlet, Marca, carried this quote from the Frenchman. “It’s true that I went and it’s true that that happened.”
The problems seem to be multiplying for Ocon, who is one of the most promising drivers on the grid currently. He finished 26 consecutive Grands Prix before crashing out at the Brazilian GP last year, taken out by Romain Grosjean.
He impressed the Mercedes bosses after securing the GP3 title in 2015 and joined their academy immediately after. He arrived in F1 in 2016 with Manor Racing, replacing Indonesian driver, Rio Haryanto.
He impressed at the most recent race in Belgium, where he put his Force India on third in qualifying before falling back slightly in the race, finishing sixth behind teammate, Sergio Perez.
Fellow drivers, Hamilton and Stroll, offered their sympathies to him over his seat for 2019 but if all goes well, he would not need those at all.