Wolff: Teams didn't have the balls to sign Ocon

Published on 14 Sep 2018 12:55

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that two teams "didn't have the balls" to sign his junior driver Esteban Ocon despite deals being on the table during the summer. The Frenchman is likely to miss out on a race seat for 2019 as Lance Stroll is set to take his place at Force India.

During the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, it was looking likely that Ocon would be signed up by Renault for next. However, it opted to go for Daniel Ricciardo in a last minute decision who made the call to leave Red Bull. 

Ocon then looked to McLaren before it confirmed that Lando Norris would take up the second seat alongside Carlos Sainz. Speaking to Sky Sports, Wolff admitted that Ocon is unlikely to be in F1 next season, but promised Mercedes would look after his future.

“What was going on in July and August was unbelieveable,” Wolff said. "There was so much politics, hidden agendas, lies going on in the background. Not all of the good kids are going to end up in cars and Esteban is probably going to be one of them.

"We will look after him as he is one of the future stars. In July he had two offers on the table with contracts on the table and it was just a matter of choosing which team was the right one. He ended up not having any anymore because people simply don’t have the balls to stick to what they say.”

McLaren, Renault and Red Bull previously admitted that Ocon was an unattractive option due to his Mercedes links. But Wolff says that there is no way he would let Ocon go as he is confident Mercedes will secure his long-term future in F1.

“Not in a million years,” he said when poised with the question about releasing him. “Because one day he is going to be in a Mercedes and win championships and show all the others out there that they made a mistake.”


Fergal Walsh

Replies (17)
NL denis1304 14 Sep 2018 13:07+1
Posts: 213
including YOU
NL KyalamiKid 14 Sep 2018 13:11+1
Posts: 145
Toto didnt have the balls to sign him earlier, and now he s without a drive thanks to Toto not releasing him... That s some great talent managing right there
US ajpennypacker 14 Sep 2018 17:32+1
Posts: 1328
Yeah... I tend to like Toto and his style but in this case it was Mercedes that really lacked the balls to sign him up. Williams could benefit from his services but they only hire pay drivers now. Force India should have kept him, but Stroll was forced in. Sauber is for Ferrari juniors, Renault is excused, they got the best possible available lineup for a rising midfield team, McLaren was not a good fit for either side, Haas... they seem happy with their miserable lineup.
NL F1_IS_Dead 14 Sep 2018 13:31+1
Posts: 119
Why should a team sign a driver whose job is to let Mercedes pass. Ocon would be a security risk for every serious F1 team. A Mercedes Trojan horse.

"lies going on in the background"

Wolff is the one spreading lies, every time he opens his mouth.
GB talktohenry 14 Sep 2018 14:130
Posts: 352
Bye bye Bottas in 2020 then
SE calle.itw 14 Sep 2018 16:440
Posts: 5472
Rich coming from you, mr 50 shades of Wolff!
Posts: 299
It all comes down to the fact that Ferrari, Renault and Honda took control of the grid away from Merc by forging closer bonds with their customers. Merc dropping the ball in that area is the fault of Merc themselves. Toto can point the blame in whatever direction he wishes, but until he points it at himself he's just spreading lies himself.
US ajpennypacker 14 Sep 2018 18:460
Posts: 1328
Well lets not start putting on tinfoil hats either. It's not that complicated. Mercedes is not the boogieman for all malice in F1.
Posts: 299
Who said they were? The fact is they slept while the other manufacturers got closer to their customer teams.
Posts: 18
I don't think they slept while winning 4 drivers and team
Championships .... they simply have a different method for managing their junior drivers.
Maybe it's not the best way to manage their jr drivers ...I agree. But for MERC it works. They will always have various top class drivers to choose from to race their cars.
NL michielhimself 14 Sep 2018 19:410
Posts: 84
Mercedes didn't have the balls to sell their engines to Red Bull.
Posts: 385
Perhaps instead of paying Hamilton £50 mil, you could have paid him £35 mil and offered £15 mil to Williams for them to take Ocon. Was Hamilton really in that good of a bargaining position? Could Hamilton have moved to Ferrari if Mercedes would have agreed to less money?
Posts: 225
Keen - I think this season's performances answer that question - it is Hamilton's superior ability that has kept Merc ahead of Ferrari - he's the one driving the team to high performance, is he worth 10m more than Vettel - easily. Let's see which team and driver wins the titles, as they say, the table doesn't lie after 20 odd GPs.
Posts: 225
Wolff bottled it by signing Bottas?? I don't think so - was everyone clamouring about Ocon to the level they are now 24 mrs ago? Was everyone in awe of Ocon 12 mrs ago - again I don't think they were t the extent they are now - so its tough to judge Wolff harshly on that basis - it is in the last 12 mrs that Ocon;s ability and maturity has shone through - I think the only criticism we could level at Wolff is his inability to see that performance level 123 months ago - but he's a young kid - it's hard to level that at him.
Posts: 228
Da fuck you on about?
Posts: 228
Unlike Mercedes who had so much "balls" to sign their own junior driver and... Oh wait!
Posts: 18
Totos plan with Ocon was to have him racing with another F1 team during 2019 seasons and then give him the MERC car seat. His plan failed do to a crazy 2018 drIvers market, swaps, retirements etc...
I see a Worst case scenario for Ocon being reserve driver for MERC 2019 and then jumping my him to a MERC F1 car for 2020. Not too bad either....
Hope he gets a drive seat for F1 - 2019 season! Awesome driver!!

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