Horner: Ocon "obvious candidate" for Toro Rosso without Mercedes links

Published on 12 Sep 2018 11:54

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has called Esteban Ocon's current career situation "crazy", and has admitted that he would be a candidate for Toro Rosso should he be released from the Mercedes junior programme.

Ocon is likely to leave Force India in the coming weeks to make way for Lance Stroll. Stroll's father, Lawrence, bought out the team over the summer break after it entered administration a couple of weeks beforehand.

With no place available next year at Mercedes for Ocon, his prospects look bleak. Several teams have admitted that his links with Mercedes make him an unattractive option, including Toro Rosso. However, Horner says that the Frenchman would have a strong chance of getting in at Red Bull's junior squad if his Mercedes ties are cut.

"It's crazy that a driver like Esteban risks not having a seat next year," Horner told Sky Italia. "But for him at the moment it's not helpful that he's a Mercedes-contracted driver. If he was released, he would be an obvious candidate for Toro Rosso, but we cannot invest in a young man tied to one of our opponents, and I think that if the roles were reversed it would be exactly the same."

Mercedes has already hinted at the possibility of releasing Ocon if it meant saving his F1 future. On social media, the 22-year-old admitted his tough situation but stated that he is more motivated than ever to succeed.

"As you know there was no easy way throughout my career," he said. "I can promise you that it's not at this moment that I will give up. Motivation is high and my old rivals are in top cars which makes me hungrier than ever. I dream F1, I train F1, I eat F1, I play F1, I think F1. I'm born to race and my only goal is to be champion and always will be."

Replies (13)
NL F1_IS_Dead 12 Sep 2018 13:140
Posts: 119
I feel so sorry for Ocon. He showed phenomenal reactions. No one made as quick room after Hamilton appeared in the mirror. Not even Bottas. His reaction in Monaco was brilliant.
A dedicated driver like this will probably send the telemetry of other teams back to Mercedes, even after his contract expires. :)
US mcbhargav 12 Sep 2018 14:300
Posts: 690
Without merc links, Ocon would be an obvious choice for many. Read Mclaren, Haas, TR, and even for Sauber. Such a great talent to miss.
SE calle.itw 12 Sep 2018 18:120
Posts: 5479
McLaren is too busy now though, they already have a complete lineup for 2019.
US ajpennypacker 13 Sep 2018 00:450
Posts: 1335
@mcBha @calle Zak even said that Ocon was considered but ultimately turned down because of the same reason... This era of manufacturers has been bad in many respects for F1. Racing is just one of them.
Posts: 385
Seems to me like it's a waiting game. Horner is basically saying "Hey Toto! Release him and we'll sign him." Yet nothing is happening, so likely Toto is banging on Williams' door but they're in no hurry to answer seeing as there are at least two Russians with bags of money they can sign and cash in. Or perhaps Toto is negotiating with Steiner to see if Haas will sign him even if he remains a "Mercedes" driver.
US ajpennypacker 12 Sep 2018 17:110
Posts: 1335
I think he'll be released
US Ram Samartha 12 Sep 2018 20:060
Posts: 241
Meanwhile Lance Stroll can't wipe that sh!t eatin grin off his face.
NL KyalamiKid 12 Sep 2018 21:160
Posts: 145
I m still a bit unsure about the reason why Ocon has to vacate his seat... Why is it so sure Checo is staying? Surely Toto can put a little pressure there if he wanted to, being engine supplier and all.
Checo would be a good replacement for Romain at Haas....
Posts: 225
I think Checo has bags of money for one thing - something RPFI cannot ignore. Also, he's a pretty damned good driver. I think Mercedes will release him as they cannot be that callous as to deny this young chap a decent career - it doesn't look like Bottas or Hamilton are leaving anytime soon, so its not even as simple as saying - just wait on the wings for a season - Bottas must realise he is in a perilous situation - I don't think he's doing enough to warrant more than 12 mrs extensions. Thoughts?
US ajpennypacker 13 Sep 2018 00:490
Posts: 1335
@Blade Bottas has been a very good #2 driver. He's been unlucky not to win at least 1 race this year. That being said, Bottas is admittedly an unexciting driver. A known cipher. For good or for bad. I think at this point in time, he's the right fit for Mercedes. Especially because he's a zero drama kind of driver. I do think at some point Mercedes will have to start planning for Lewis' replacement.
NL KyalamiKid 13 Sep 2018 10:230
Posts: 145
I would think the consortium kinda sorted the cashflow problem.
Releasing him could come back to bite them in the future when he beats them in a Ferrari, Renault or RB...
Ocon could remain a Merc driver and still be in the running for a top seat once Hammy retires. (Bottas is not the replacement they are looking for, they need someone more aggressive... maybe they're banking on RB failing with Honda and trying to get VER when his contract there is up)
NL michielhimself 13 Sep 2018 10:340
Posts: 84
"In a shock move, Renault sign Ocon as testing driver along with a a race seat in 2020 in a 3-year deal that sees them racing with Mercedes engines starting in 2019. In a press quote, Cyril Abiteboul anounced this as a 'major step forward' in the development of his racing team"
(2018, the silly season that had it all)
Posts: 918
Disagree with Toto here. Mercedes should have put ocon in that second seat instead boring bottas. Not sure what more bottas brings than ocon. I think that ocon would do an better job than him.

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