Esteban Ocon on Mercedes association: ‘Very interesting future ahead of me’

Jon Wilde
Esteban Ocon talking to Gwen Lagrue. Zandvoort September 2022.

Esteban Ocon has responded to a question about his relationship with Mercedes by predicting he has “a very interesting future”.

The Frenchman’s career has been guided by Mercedes head of motorsport Toto Wolff since he captured the GP3 title in 2015, with the Austrian having brokered Ocon’s move to the team now titled Alpine – as featured in series two of Netflix docuseries ‘Drive to Survive’.

In 2019, when he spent a year off the grid between his spells with Force India/Racing Point and Renault/Alpine, Ocon was the Mercedes reserve driver.

He currently has a contract with Alpine that runs until the end of 2024, but due to his connection with Mercedes has to be considered as a candidate to fill the seat that will eventually be vacated by Lewis Hamilton when he retires.

Mercedes have put a lot of investment over the years into the development as racing drivers of Ocon and George Russell, who was brought along steadily with a three-year ‘loan’ spell at Williams before being given a chance at the Silver Arrows alongside Hamilton this season.

During an interview with the Italian edition of Motorsport.com, Ocon was asked whether his association with Mercedes and Wolff continues.

“Yes, we talk, also because in career management I am always helped by Gwen Lagrue, a manager who also works with Mercedes,” said Ocon, who has just celebrated his 26th birthday.

“So there is still this connection, even though I am an Alpine driver and my job is here today. I have a nice contract that expires at the end of 2024 and a very interesting future ahead of me.”

Next season, unless anything unexpected happens at Mercedes, the scenario is that Ocon will have a new Alpine team-mate as Fernando Alonso is moving on to Aston Martin after two years working together.

At the time of writing, Pierre Gasly was favourite to step into Alonso’s shoes at Alpine but that was not certain to occur.

Asked where he sees himself in the next two to three years and whether he envisages a lengthy F1 career, Ocon replied: “I realise nothing is certain in Formula 1. Even if you have won, if you have stood up to a double World Champion like Fernando, you don’t have a guaranteed future.

“We have the example of Daniel [Ricciardo], two years ago he was in the top driver group and today he has no guarantee of a seat for next season.

“You always have to be at the top – woe betide you if you give up.”

Read more: Lewis Hamilton – Which driver will eventually replace him at Mercedes?