Ocon: ‘Not justified’ if Russell loses seat

Jamie Woodhouse
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Esteban Ocon was very disappointed to read in the news that George Russell’s seat at Williams could be under threat.

Since joining Williams in 2019 Russell has been a rare shining light in what have been dark times for the iconic team.

His debut season saw him win the qualifying battle against former team-mate Robert Kubica 21-0, and he is still yet to be outqualified by a team-mate with Nicholas Latifi also yet to defeat ‘Mr. Saturday’.

But while Russell has been a regular feature of Q2 this season, he remains without a World Championship point in his career, though the machinery he’s been given has done little to help that situation.

It was a surprise then when rumours started swirling that Sergio Perez was in contention to replace Russell at Williams from 2021 with the Mexican driver set to leave Racing Point at the end of the year.

And those rumours didn’t sit well with Ocon who believes Russell losing his Williams seat could not be justified.

“I’m just reading the press, so I’m not really aware of what is happening, but I really hope that George can stay in Formula 1,” he told Autosport.

“Performance-wise, he’s doing an excellent job in that Williams – he’s doing the best he can.

“There’s nothing to say bad about him, about what he is doing.

“It would be not justified for him to not be on the grid next year. But that’s how Formula 1 is, it can be cruel sometimes.

“I’ve paid the price at the end of 2018, and for 2019. I hope this won’t be the case for him.”

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Ocon and Russell of course both have links to Mercedes. Russell remains a part of the team’s driver programme while Ocon is still managed by Mercedes boss Toto Wolff despite joining Renault for 2020.

And Ocon said if it wasn’t for Mercedes’ support through his junior career and then after he lost his Racing Point seat at the end of 2018, then he wouldn’t be where he is today.

“Without the support of Mercedes, I would not be of course where I am today,” he explained.

“It’s been the support since years, since my junior career. For sure I would not be here today.

“Let’s not say that he will be out. I don’t know what is going to happen.

“On a normal performance judgement, which is always the sporting [side] that we want to judge, he should be on the grid next year.”

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