Wolff fears losing Ocon for up to two years

Jamie Woodhouse
Esteban Ocon

Toto Wolff wasn't prepared to risk Esteban Ocon's career by putting him alongside Lewis Hamilton in 2020.

Mercedes principal Toto Wolff admits that if they continue with Valtteri Bottas, then Esteban Ocon will need to go elsewhere to continue his development.

The Frenchman missed out on a seat for 2019 after spells with Manor and Force India, but he remains in the Formula 1 paddock as Mercedes’ development and reserve driver.

Recent reports have linked him with Haas, and Wolff admitted that if Mercedes extend Bottas’ contract, then it would mean them losing Ocon.

“George (Russell) and Esteban are our most experienced junior drivers. We are very happy with their development,” he explained in the FIA team principals’ press conference.

“It is a shame that Esteban fell out of the boat last year. He has shown that he is a very valuable addition to the team. He contributes a lot behind the scenes, rides in the simulator every weekend and is ready every Saturday. Putting a young driver in the car would be interesting.”

However, Wolff accepts there are other teams interested in Ocon’s services, leaving him with a tough decision to make.

“In contrast, there is interest from other teams,” he said.

“We have to make a decision for ourselves, as well as one that works out well for Esteban. If we choose Valtteri, then someone  should train him [Ocon] further.

“That causes us to lose him for a year or two, but those are the consequences of such a decision.”

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