Wolff denies lining up Ocon at Mercedes

Date published: December 13 2017 - Editor

Toto Wolff has admitted that Esteban Ocon is in the Mercedes “picture”, but has dismissed suggestions that the Force India driver is being lined up to replace Valtteri Bottas in the near future.

Bottas replaced Nico Rosberg at Merc at the start of the year and although he was still in the running for the title during the European leg of the season, he ultimately fell well short as his team-mate Lewis Hamilton wrapped up the Championship at Mexico.

Ocon, meanwhile, had a very successful full debut season in F1 as he finished eighth in the standings and scored points in 18 of the 20 races.

There have been claims that the Brackley-based squad could turn to the Frenchman, who is part of the Mercedes-Benz driver development programme, as a replacement for Bottas, but Wolff is having none of it.

“Esteban is one of our drivers and is therefore in the picture, but the team and all of its strength is behind Valtteri,” he told Finland’s Turun Sanomat newspaper.

“If we to start thinking about other drivers, it would mean that the emotional side would not be 100 per cent for Valtteri,” he added.

“I can assure you, from the board to every team member, we all want Valtteri to succeed,” he said.

“Together with Lewis, he is our driver and we do not think of any others.”