Toto Wolff, Mercedes team boss, has said that they will not object to a switch to Renault for Esteban Ocon for 2019.
Having been a Renault reserve driver in the past, Ocon has links to the team, along with having the same nationality, which would be a key plus for Renault.
His chances of staying with the Pink Panthers for a third year seemed to have taken a dive, as the team have been linked with an investment from Lawrence Stroll, father of Lance.
Toto Wolff has said that he “wouldn’t want to stand in the way” if Ocon did want to move to a different engine supplier for next season.
“We picked Esteban up when Gravity fell apart and the first team he was actually associated with was Renault,” Wolff said.
“At the time, we had just started our junior programme and it felt right to put Pascal [Wehrlein] and Esteban in to give them a go.
“Today we are trying to set them a path that will make them very successful long-term, to put them in a position to be world champions maybe one day.”
With both Mercedes men having been signed to contract extensions, no seats are available with the reigning four-time Constructors’ Champions.
“With Valtteri and Lewis we have a line-up that is stable, that works for us, and at this stage there is no opportunity within Mercedes,” the Austrian continued.
“If he has the opportunity somewhere else to be successful as a racing driver, and another team or another constructors to be successful with Esteban, we wouldn’t want to stand in the way.”
Force India’s COO, Otmar Szafnauer, was speaking in the same press conference as Wolff, and said that a deal had to be right if Ocon was to leave.
“It’s fine for him to go but we’ve got to agree to that. And I’m sure Toto has persuasive tools if that’s what we all want to do. If it’s mutual,” Szafnauer admitted.
“We work well together, we had great discussions about Esteban when he came in. If it’s mutually beneficial, then of course that’s what we’re going to do. We won’t stand in his way.”