Mercedes‘ relationship with Renault has been complicated to say the least, especially with regard to Esteban Ocon. Admittedly, Wolff was furious when Ocon was shunted aside when Daniel Ricciardo suddenly dropped a bombshell.
However, he has now come out and said that he never lost trust in the French outfit. He confessed that team principals like himself and Cyril Abiteboul “need to play hard and forgive quickly.”
Back in 2019, there was an agreement between the two to let Ocon stay with the team in 2019 However, a spanner called Daniel Ricciardo was thrown in the works, so Renault did a volte face.
Naturally, Wolff made his feelings on the move abundantly clear, especially since there were no other viable options. The Frenchman lost his Force India/Racing Point seat to Lance Stroll, owing to the deep pockets of the latter.
Now, Renault have redeemed themselves in the eyes of Mercedes, when Nico Hulkenberg was axed. So, this in turn opened the door for them to sign up Ocon for at least the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
“No, we never lost the trust,” he affirmed, speaking to Motorsport.com. “There are so many common things that we discuss between Renault and Mercedes, where we discuss how the sport should go, and that as much as the situation on Esteban affected us and we let some words slip, this is part of the game.
“There were phases where we were upset with each other, but then you need to move on. It hasn’t changed anything on the respect I have for Cyril, and the respect I have for Renault as a brand. That’s why we moved on. We need to play hard and forgive quickly.”
Abiteboul himself has confessed that he too was not comfortable with the way things panned out in 2018. He declared that they never intended to leave Ocon on the lurch and to trigger the chain reaction that snapping up Ricciardo would cause.
The Renault boss said, “I don’t think we can provide all the details, but I think it’s been a whole dynamic probably was not well handled last year by our two companies.”
“And that’s why I think we’ve done better this year, I think we’ve been a bit clearer with each other about parameters and timing, and we simply stick to timing and deadlines.”
“I think it’s been an extremely fluid discussion, it’s been extremely transparent, with one simple objective.”