Force India boss Otmar Szafnauer has said he “doubts” Esteban Ocon had a future Mercedes deal in mind at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Ocon collided with Max Verstappen at Turn 2 at Interlagos, which ruined all chance of the Dutchman clinching back-to-back victories for the first time in his Formula 1 career.
The collision allowed Lewis Hamilton to re-take the race lead and help clinch a fifth consecutive Constructors’ Championship for Mercedes, the team who Ocon remains very much a part of as he tries to earn a seat at the Silver Arrows in 2020.
But, after the race, Szafnauer said that Ocon is not the type of driver to think like that at all after Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko suggested some shady behaviour was going on.
“That conspiracy theory I doubt,” Szafnauer said via Sky Sports F1.
“Drivers aren’t thinking about what their positions are going to be in 2020.”
“Esteban came on the radio and said ‘can I unlap myself because I’m quicker’ and we said ‘yeah go ahead.’
“He did, at that point we had a tyre advantage and we probably would have for the next 5-6 laps.
“Whatever Max was doing with his tyres… we’re racing other people, in our race we had to do it. Esteban asked us if can he do it, and we said yes.”
Pressed once again on whether Ocon would collide with someone to further his own career, Szafnauer replied: “No, absolutely, not.
“He asked us if he could unlap himself. He was unsure and we said ‘yeah, go ahead’.
Ocon would go on to finish in P15 at the Brazilian Grand Prix after serving a 10-second stop/go penalty, which became P14 after Stoffel Vandoorne was penalised for ignoring blue flags.