Wolff: Ocon with Hamilton would’ve been career risk

Jamie Woodhouse
Esteban Ocon

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

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff resisted from putting Esteban Ocon alongside Lewis Hamilton for 2020, fearing the impact it could have had on his career.

After losing his seat with the team formerly known as Force India after the 2018 season, Mercedes junior Ocon sat out the 2019 season with a possible view to stepping up into a Silver Arrows seat the following year.

But, Wolff would choose to retain Valtteri Bottas as Hamilton’s team-mate for 2020, while Ocon joined Renault to partner Daniel Ricciardo.

Wolff thinks he made the right choice though, believing it wouldn’t have been “good” for Ocon’s career to put him up against six-time World Champion Hamilton who is at his peak.

“The swinging argument for me was, putting Ocon against Hamilton, who has been with Mercedes for seven years and is at the peak of his game, is not good for him, especially after sitting out one year,” he is quoted by GPFans.com.

“We might find the story exciting and probably he would have done well but there is only one guy who ever did well against a superstar and that was Lewis Hamilton himself [against Fernando Alonso at McLaren in 2007].

“So I don’t want to risk his career and I don’t want to risk him trying to do something to win against Lewis. That was the tipping point.”

Bottas has become a valuable No.2 driver at Mercedes, and Wolff was also not prepared to break that dynamic, knowing Ocon would be out to win the title for himself at all costs.

“Whilst managing drivers you have to embrace the fact that they will pursue their dreams and their main target is going to be to win the Drivers’ Championship,” he explained.

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