Mercedes driver development advisor Gwen Lagrue has confirmed that Esteban Ocon is still managed by the team, despite a drive with them looking unlikely for the foreseeable future.
Ocon was in the Mercedes junior stable prior to his arrival on the Formula 1 grid with Manor, and the team helped facilitate a move up to Force India, which became Racing Point in 2018.
The Frenchman became reserve driver at Mercedes in his year off the grid in 2019, prior to a move to ‘Team Enstone’ in its guises as Renault and Alpine that has seen him burnish his reputation alongside Fernando Alonso and Pierre Gasly.
Mercedes confirm ‘we’re still managing’ Esteban Ocon’s career
Ocon has since become a race winner in his time with Alpine, taking victory in Hungary in 2021 to stand on the top step of the podium.
Lagrue, Mercedes’ long-time talent spotter, has been pleased with what he has seen with the 27-year-old’s performances, and believes he matched up well against a two-time World Champion as a team-mate.
“To be honest, the last two years, what he did against also Fernando [Alonso] was pretty strong,” Lagrue told The Race when discussing Ocon’s performances at Alpine.
“So we are not talking about always winning or doing podiums etc, but still he did a very, very, very good job.
“And I think Fernando pushed him also to a limit he didn’t know [in] himself, and he’s still improving.”
When asked about any remaining ties to Mercedes, Lagrue revealed that the Silver Arrows are still “managing” him – though he remains “fully committed” to his current drive.
A Mercedes drive is not due to open up any time soon, with both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell having signed fresh terms to remain with the team until 2025, while Ocon’s current deal with Alpine is set to expire at the end of 2024.
“He’s still very linked to us,” Lagrue stated of Ocon’s current status with Mercedes.
“He’s an Alpine driver, and he’s fully committed to Alpine, but we’re still managing his career.
“There are only 20 seats in Formula 1, and we are in a way pretty much all collaborating in the best interests of the sport. And in our case we have a very good relationship with Alpine and with others. And we always try to find the best solution to work together in the best interest of the team and the driver.”