Esteban Ocon’s ‘Mercedes junior’ comments resurface after confirmed Alpine exit

Oliver Harden
A close-up shot of Esteban Ocon looking into the distance with a prominent Mercedes logo alongside him

Esteban Ocon's recent comments hinted that he could be eyeing an unlikely Mercedes chance for 2025

Is Esteban Ocon hoping to replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes for the F1 2025 season after his Alpine exit was confirmed? 

The Frenchman’s comments to media including PlanetF1.com at last month’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix appear to suggest so.

Esteban Ocon eyeing unlikely Mercedes F1 2025 shot after Alpine exit?

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

Alpine announced on Monday that Ocon will leave the team at the expiry of his contract at the end of the F1 2024 season after five years with the Enstone-based outfit.

Ocon claimed his first F1 victory in Alpine colours at the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix, collecting further podium finishes at Sakhir 2020 and Monaco 2023.

In a statement confirming his Alpine exit, Ocon revealed that he will finalise his F1 2025 plans “very soon” amid links to Haas, Williams and Audi, who will take over the existing Sauber team in F1 2026.

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Ocon first joined Alpine (then Renault) for the 2020 campaign after spending the previous season as Mercedes’ reserve driver, with the 27-year-old a product of the Silver Arrows’ junior academy and having hired Toto Wolff, the Mercedes team boss, as his manager in 2015.

Seven-time World Champion Hamilton announced earlier this year that he will join Ferrari on a multi-year contract from F1 2025, leaving a vacancy alongside George Russell.

PlanetF1.com recently shed light on Mercedes’ F1 2025 plans, revealing that Carlos Sainz – the driver whom Hamilton will replace at Ferrari – is not currently under consideration to partner Russell, with the team instead opting to keep tabs on Max Verstappen’s situation at Red Bull.

If Verstappen is unattainable for F1 2025, Mercedes are thought to be likely to replace Hamilton with Andrea Kimi Antonelli, the team’s 17-year-old junior sensation, who recently commenced an extensive testing program to prepare him for an F1 seat.

Speaking to media including PlanetF1.com at Imola, however, Ocon appeared to throw his hat into the ring as a potential Hamilton replacement, stressing that he still considers himself a Mercedes junior driver.

He said: “I’m still in my mind a Mercedes junior. The management side, that hasn’t changed since 2015.

“We are discussing a lot. We will decide what’s best for my future.”

Speaking before his Alpine departure was confirmed, Ocon admitted that he is open to both long-term and short-term options, stressing the need to have his future resolved quickly after being left without a seat for 2019 following his departure from Force India.

He explained: “For sure, there’s a lot happening behind [the scenes], not only looking for a long-term deal then also the short term.

“Things can change quickly in Formula 1, but the important thing is to be secured as early as possible. That is a clear target of mine as always.

“I don’t want to pay the price the second time like at the end of 2018, which was not a good memory. It was not for performance reasons.

“I think I’m doing a good job again this year and for the years that I’ve been in F1. So I deserve to have a place in F1.

“We’ll see. At the moment, my head is fully into this team, is fully dedicated. I’ve been in the project for years, that is very clear.

“But in Formula 1, it’s quite a dark side [to be without a deal] and not the one that I’ve ever enjoyed.

“So as soon as it will be done, the better it will be.”

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