Esteban Ocon, Force India, Sochi Autodrom, 2018

Ocon expects to sit out 2019 if he doesn’t get Williams F1 seat

2018 Russian Grand Prix

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Esteban Ocon says he is unlikely to race elsewhere in 2019 if he fails to land a Formula 1 seat at Williams, which he considers his last realistic chance to find a drive for next season.

The Force India driver is set to lose his place alongside Sergio Perez to Lance Stroll next year. Ocon, who is backed by Mercedes, admitted their engine customer team Williams is his last chance to find a place for the 2019 F1 season.

The team is currently last in the constructors’ championship but Ocon disagreed that switching to them would be a step backwards for him. “There are talks with Williams, obviously,” he said. “But I can’t say it will be a downgrade.

“Williams is a great team, they have been world champions in the past, they have been fighting with us hard last year. They have a tough time [now] but all teams have tough times.”

When asked by RaceFans, Ocon denied he would sever his ties with Mercedes in order to improve his chances of finding a drive elsewhere.

“I think my only good thing at the moment is that I have great support with Mercedes. They will never let me go and they will always push with me to find solution. At the moment that’s the only good thing I have. There’s nothing else.”

Ocon said he is unlikely to race elsewhere if he is unable to find an F1 drive for 2019. “For sure it could be an option to be on the bench next year,” he said. “But even if that’s the case I will be back in ’20 and I will be back stronger and prepared.”

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No Formula E or IndyCar switch

He discounted the possibility of a move into IndyCar or Formula E, even temporarily. “I’m not interested [in IndyCar],” said Ocon in response to a question from RaceFans. “I’m interested in Formula 1, that’s the only thing I want to do. So that’s my only focus.

“I like racing, I like cars, I think it’s a great series. But the only thing I look at is Formula 1. It’s my only target to be world champion one day, there is nothing else that counts really.”

Ocon admitted the safety standards in IndyCar are also a concern following the serious injuries his former Mercedes DTM team mate Robert Wickens suffered in a crash earlier this year. “Looking at Robert, which I know very well, of course it breaks you a bit also from that. But anyway if that wasn’t the case I would not look at IndyCar.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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16 comments on “Ocon expects to sit out 2019 if he doesn’t get Williams F1 seat”

  1. Williams have been intriguingly quiet throughout this “silly season”. It seems evident that Stroll will be going to Force India (/Racing Point), leaving at least one seat open. I’d imagine Sirotkin might stay on… but have no evidence to indicate why; just gut feel. Kubica seems unlikely to get the other seat, so it must be between Russell and Ocon? Perhaps they’ll look at Vandoorne and I also heard Markelov might get a look in.

    They seem to be biding their time before picking up the pieces of who is left.

  2. Lawrence Stroll should consider the fact that Dr. Vijay Mallya never promoted pay drivers or drivers he could have favoured (like Indian drivers or maybe even give his son Sid an outing in F1). Vijay was very serious about this team since day 1 of purchase. He might have got Sutil as a bad legacy but even he did well (remember Monaco 2008 ?), But nonetheless never took a single vacant seat at Force India for granted and that has shown its results with the team consistently punching above it’s weight and finishing P4 in the toughest of competition.
    Lance Stroll may or may not do well in that car, so they should always keep Ocon as a backup. He should analyze the performance of his son along Perez’s and then decide. If nepotism was the only way in Motorsports than a certain Michael Schumacher would never have been made possible.

  3. Nico Hulkenberg bounced back after being dropped by Williams in favour of Maldonado and he didn’t have any backing at all. So Ocon could do the same, sitting out for 2019 while staying in Mercedes’ orbit. Who knows, maybe Bottas flops next year and they need a replacement for 2020… Maybe a seat in such a hard environment like Williams might not do him any good at all.

    In any case, best of luck for him and his family. I hope he returns sooner than later.

    1. @fer-no65
      Good point, a year not racing and being the next darling at Merc may be better than a year in a toxic environment (I am not saying Williams is that, but cant be the best place to be at the moment).

      K-Mag talks more now about his time at McLaren in 2014 and how its wasn’t enjoyable at all. Seems to have hard time at Renault as well but doing better now. I still want to him in F1 next year though.

  4. He could jump straight to a Toro Rosso or Haas if not for the politics in F1. Not sure if an amount of money could twist their arms but it appears not. I can see why Red Bull don’t want skill him up some more in the sister car only to race against him in a year or two but would be a shame not to see him drive in 2019.

  5. Why would Williams not sign him up? Money? He is clearly a very talented driver and would give Williams some reference points in terms of performance. They know they have a crap car but not sure just how crap because they have two average drivers.

    Ideal scenario: Williams build a car that can at least challenge the midfield and have Ocon maximize its capabilities, scoring points, earning more prize money.

  6. Just give him the Williams-drive.

  7. I really hope he doesn’t find a drive, he is very hot headed and can’t stand this guy (this is my own opinion, there is no need for replies)

    1. No need for you to make this post either.

  8. As good as Ocon is (which is open to debate as hes only really matching Perez on a very good day), I’d rather see Kubica in that Williams next year!

    1. And on a bad day his teammate is forcing collisions with him. Kubica is not the future, Ocon is.

  9. According to the commentators on an F1 Grand Prix related broadcast a GP or two back, e.g. one of the Final Practice broadcasts, it seems Kubica has it written into his contract with Williams that he is to get the seat of Stroll or Sirotkin if their seat becomes vacant. So Kubica is the one who should get Stroll’s seat, unless he’s bought out. I’m not sure if that clause expires at the end of this season, but as I think about it, it would be logical for Williams if it did. So for Ocon to still be in talks with Williams means Kubica can be bought out or that clause isn’t relevant.
    Another important point is whether or not Ocon can fit into the Williams car. From the way the commentators spoke it seems Ocon is taller than most F1 drivers, so it could be he can’t fit into the current Williams FW41. If Ocon is to be considered for next season by Williams then they’d have to ensure the FW42 will accommodate him. Again, since they are still in discussions with him then one has to believe he can comfortably sit inside the FW42.

    1. @drycrust

      it seems Kubica has it written into his contract with Williams that he is to get the seat of Stroll or Sirotkin if their seat becomes vacant.

      We reported that a while back:

      https://www.racefans.net/2018/08/25/stroll-force-india-f1-seat-fitting-monza-switch/

      1. @keithcollantine does this apply for 2019 though?

      2. Sorry for overlooking your report, I’d forgotten about that.

  10. Kubica and Ocon at Williams would be an amazing combination, in my opinion. Soritkin has been okay, but if they want to stop treading water and move forward, they need to use top quality drivers to attract new sponsors rather than just use pay drivers to burn out their storied reputation.

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