Villeneuve predicts Mercedes will promote Ocon early

Published on 05 Dec 2018 10:01

1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve predicts Mercedes will replace Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas with Esteban Ocon during the 2019 season. Bottas currently has a 12-month contract with the Silver Arrows, with Ocon as its reserve driver.

Bottas was 5th in the 2018 drivers championship and Villeneuve thinks that if he has a poor start to the 2019 season then he could be sacked and replaced by the 22-year-old. Ocon joined Formula 1 in 2016 with Manor Racing and is part of the Mercedes Benz Driver Development Programme.

The Frenchman also holds the all-time record for the most consecutive finishes from the start of his career, with 27. Villeneuve told Sky Italia: “I think there is a possibility that Bottas will be replaced by Esteban Ocon during the 2019 season."

Ocon had previously stated: “Definitely I will be around the F1 paddock and trying to get as much mileage as possible in a Formula 1 car next year. Me and Mercedes, we see great opportunities for me to come back in 2020. So hopefully that will be the case and hopefully I will be back even stronger than I am now”.

Ocon lost his seat at Force India which has been renamed Racing Point. It has brought in Lance Stroll, the son of new owner Lawrence Stroll in his place.

Toto Wolff said: “We hope to do the odd test with him (Ocon), we are looking at pre-season and in-season but it’s not sorted out yet. He will do a lot of time in the simulator to make sure that he is ready”.   

Replies (11)
NL Danimal5981 05 Dec 2018 11:000
Posts: 52
Yup, I have that same feeling. Bottas will get until the Canadian GP and if he has not convinced until that time, Ocon gets the seat in France for the remainder of the season.
Posts: 133
It might be possible
US ajpennypacker 05 Dec 2018 16:450
Posts: 1404
I don't see it. I mean unless Bottas continues (and accelerates) the downward trend in performance. In all honesty it's hard for me to understand why Ocon is rated so highly. Unless Mercedes is looking for a proper #2 driver. I mean, who seriously envisions Ocon giving Hamilton a hard time?
US mcbhargav 05 Dec 2018 17:170
Posts: 727
He ain't the next Alonso. He is another salaryman.
SE calle.itw 05 Dec 2018 17:280
Posts: 5636
Up until Force India, Ocon looked like a future champion to me. Now he might at best be on par with Hulkenberg.
US ajpennypacker 05 Dec 2018 18:450
Posts: 1404
@calle haha that move in Monaco changed so many things for you. But frankly, I don't think that mattered very much in terms of assessing Ocon's actual performance. Instead I'd point more to the number of clumsy moves while racing wheel-to-wheel. The inconsistency in performance, and finally the fact that Perez has ultimately out scored him two consecutive years by a comfortable margin. I hear all sorts of excuses for that, like the podium Perez got, which was due to mainly to attrition. But the fact is Sergio has gotten 8 podiums in similar fashion. Why? Because he's always there when there's a chance.
SE calle.itw 05 Dec 2018 19:060
Posts: 5636
AJPP, AJPP, I am disappointed. Surely you know me better than that by now! Nay, it was actually quite a bit before Monaco. I'd say it started at Baku last year, the crash between Perez and Ocon, that I begun to see unpleasant characteristics in him, and sadly it only deteriorated for him. I'll admit that Monaco this year was the point at which he also got the badge of being a corporate thrall, yet another boy 50 Shades of Toto (enter Ellie Goulding's song here) trained ever so well in his basement of joy, but it was the last season that my confidence in him dropped.
SE calle.itw 05 Dec 2018 16:460
Posts: 5636
It wouldnt surprise me. Either if he doesnt do well enough or if he does too well, he'll be ditched. A tricky position for this Finn.
US mcbhargav 05 Dec 2018 17:140
Posts: 727
It would be a poor show of professionalism, UNLESS Bottas does something stupid(on / off track). It affects the brand image of Mercedez, which is IMO bigger than Mr.Wolff & team.
SE calle.itw 05 Dec 2018 17:270
Posts: 5636
Sadly Merc' already has shown clear enough that they dont care about their brand. They only care about winning.
US mcbhargav 05 Dec 2018 17:560
Posts: 727
Considering the demographic that is interested in buying a Mercedez, i wonder why they would would want to project their image as such.

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Driver profile
Name FR Esteban Ocon
Active As Force India Driver in Formula 1
Date of birth Sep 17 1996 (22)
Weight 66 kg
Height 1.86m
City Évreux
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Location AE Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
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Founding date Jan 1 1930
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Previous Grand Prix: 25 November 2018
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