Esteban Ocon, Mercedes, Shanghai International Circuit, 2019

Ocon and Bottas ‘both deserve 2020 seat in a way’ – Wolff

2020 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says the two candidates for a seat alongside Lewis Hamilton in the 2020 F1 season both deserve the chance.

Wolff said the team has given lengthy consideration to current driver Valtteri Bottas and reserve driver Esteban Ocon’s suitability for the drive.

“We’ve been discussing it for a long time in the within the team and I’ve been wrestling with myself on what is the right thing for the team and what is the right thing for the drivers.

“If we were to have only one of those then it would be a no-brainer to have them in the car. In a way both deserve the seat.

“Esteban because he has been through tough situations and he certainly has the motivation and the energy and the talent to be in a Mercedes.

“On the other side Valtteri has the experience and has proven again how far he can go and he’s tremendously supportive in developing the team together with Lewis.”

The team will make its decision during the summer break. “What we decided is to really don’t think about it more than we did already, wait for the Budapest weekend to pass, stick our heads together over the summer and then come to a decision that is best for the team and best for both because we care for both.”

Wolff said Mercedes are still prepared to loan Ocon to a rival if it is the only way to find him a place on the grid next year.

“I think if you can’t provide an opportunity for young driver then you’ve got to make compromises,” he said.

“Certainly I wouldn’t sabotage Esteban’s career by blocking him and not releasing him to drive in Formula 1. He’s a great personality because he said he would understand if we were to do this and if needed he would stay in the Mercedes family and do something else with us.

“But I think that he must be given the opportunity in Formula 1 either with us or with another team and who knows what happens in two, three, four years down the line. These guys are all so young, they’re between 20 and 22 years old, this is when Lewis joined Formula 1. So the future is bright for all of these young guys.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2019 F1 season

Browse all 2019 F1 season articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

23 comments on “Ocon and Bottas ‘both deserve 2020 seat in a way’ – Wolff”

  1. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
    4th August 2019, 7:14

    Sounds like if they can find Ocon a decent loaner seat, they’ll retain Bottas. If they can’t, they’re going with Ocon and dumping Bottas.

  2. I cannot see them putting Ocon in the same team as Lewis. They have seen first hand how bad it can get, and Ocon is known for not getting along with his team mate. Bottas is a solid number 2 who can ensure that the team secure the constructors, why rock the boat before 2021?

    1. Completely agree. Bottas may not be a title contender but he’s pretty much the perfect #2 driver.
      It’s uncertain the ocon is actually better than Bottas and we have already seen he has teammate issues. So if he was a title contender, it would be a huge risk for the team given how he acted when he wasn’t a contender.
      Keeping Bottas is a no brainer.

    2. Putting ocon beside Lewis is accepting several dnfs.
      For next year merc needs all the team points available

  3. Uday Motwani
    4th August 2019, 7:41

    First Matthew Carter (ex Team Principal of Lotus F1) said in a podcast Ocon will be replacing Bottas for 2020. Recently, Rosberg said the same ting too. And both of them have said this after getting information from an inside source of theirs within the Mercedes team.

    1. Except that I wouldn’t trust a word out of Rosberg’s mouth. He will say anything to get views on his youtube channel.

    2. Yet Joe Saward said otherwise when told of Carter’s info.

      It sounds like nothing is decided yet. If Bottas messes up again, then it will probably seal his fate.

      Just because Ocon had some clashes on the track with Checo doesn’t mean he would be a bad number two to Ham. Bottas is a good number two because he isn’t fast enough to clash with Ham.

      The best thing to happen would be for Bottas to go to RB and Ocon to Merc. Russell will probably take Ham’s place in a couple of years.

  4. Toto Wolff says the two candidates for a seat alongside Lewis Hamilton in the 2020 F1 season both deserve the chance.

    Good work Esteban: Valtteri’s being dumped … and No! you aren’t better than him.

  5. Maybe they do… If Louise is leaving!

  6. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    4th August 2019, 8:10

    Out of all of them it’s Russell that impresses me most. I just have a feeling about him being the next big thing. He has such an arrogant authority like nothing would phase him, like a young Alonso, no mistakes in his rookie season, maximum extraction out of a poor car. I don’t even think Kubica is doing that bad of a job, he’s just up against the next big thing. He also came out top of the pile in last year’s F2 championship, the most talent rich season I’ve seen where the top 3 have all shone in their rookie F1 seasons. Mercedes have been wax lyrical regarding Russell’s speed for a long time, so he looks the complete package to me.

    That being said you can tell from his demeanour he would not be a number 2, so maybe give Bottas one more season then get Russell in. Ocon seems a little bit of a liability for me at a top team, get him a good drive somewhere and see if he matures.

    1. That being said you can tell from his demeanour he would not be a number 2

      I agree with most of your comment, but I’d disagree with this one statement @rdotquestionmark

      I’ve noticed that Russell is working hard at Williams, yet not complaining or moaning about his predicament or the car. To me, that shows he’s playing the long game. I think that if promoted to Mercedes, he will play a good #2 role, secure in the knowledge that age is on his side and the #1 seat awaits him. Not a subservient #2 the way Ferrari have used for some time, but a wingman – backing up Hamilton, pushing Hamilton to do better, and if Hamilton misfires, sweeping ahead to still safeguard Mercedes’ points.

      Of Mercedes’ available drivers, I really think Russell is the one that needs promotion, more so than Ocon.

      1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
        4th August 2019, 8:32

        A really that’s a fair point @phylyp

        1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
          4th August 2019, 8:33


      2. @rdotquestionmark I have to agree with @phylyp, Russell looks, if anything, like a guy who knows his time is coming; if that means taking a year or two to learn from the best (with Hamilton seemingly not being quite the Alonso or Schumacher – as described by Rosberg – to a new teammate), he will do it, while showing he’s nipping at his heels, or perhaps even showing him it is getting time to move on.

  7. Well looks like this race is the decider then. Bottas has it all to race for good luck.

  8. For Immediate Release:

    AMG Mercedes F1 announces innovative ride sharing program for 2020. Two drivers. One car. 11 sick weekends each.

    1. @jimmi-cynic
      Monisha Kaltenborn approves

  9. BLS (@brightlampshade)
    4th August 2019, 11:03

    I feel the emergence of Russel has thrown a spanner in the works. Hopefully Williams can improve so that seat becomes more useful to Mercedes (and also because Williams, please be better).
    Ocon isn’t a bad driver by any stretch, but I don’t see what he brings that Bottas doesn’t, both are pretty quick, just not top tier quick.

  10. Straight out of managerial literature, shifting by degrees

    ‘we see no reason to replace bottas’
    ‘we see no reason to replace bottas, but we have a viable alternative in ocon if needed’
    ‘we see no reason why ocon couldnt drive coming season, though bottas is still the first option’
    ‘we see no reason why ocon couldnt drive coming season, though bottas is still an option’
    ‘we see bottas and ocon as equal alternatives’
    ‘we see ocon and bottas as equal alternatives’

  11. I’m still not sold on Ocon. He was good, but Perez gave him a lot of trouble and he was clearly divisive in the team. I’m not sure he is anywhere near as good as he’s made out to be. Also – again personal feeling, but comes across almost a little entitled to the Merc seat? I don’t know – there’s something about him I don’t like too much.

    Given the language coming out of Mercedes I think it’s fairly inevitable unless Bottas seals this year’s championship though. Which, I think is undeserved – Bottas has done pretty well this year. If Bottas does become available it’d be interesting to see where he ends up.

    1. Agree, Ocon is getting more and more hype every weekend simply because he’s waiting in the wings and Bottas is underperforming. People seem to forget that he wasn’t that good vs Perez so it’s a little ridiculous to hear that it’s a foregone conclusion that Ocon is better than Bottas.

  12. I doubt anyone other than Mercedes is willing to pay for Bottas and if they aint gonna keep him in the main team i doubt even they will pay for it so hes out of F1 when his Mercedes career ends. The only question is if they belive in Ocon for the future past Hamilton, if not they will keep Bottas as #2 until they find someone they belive in.

  13. John Richards (@legardforpresident)
    5th August 2019, 4:52

    In a perfect world, it’d be Russel in the other Merc with Ocon possibly in a Williams as part of a deal made with Mercedes. But unfortunately, Williams have mentioned that Russel is out of bounds for 2020, so I’d be surprised if Mercedes didn’t get out that cheque book anytime soon. That being said, Ocon can be fast at times, but super temperamental. Mercedes would risk having two divas in the team which could damage the stability. Mercedes also can’t afford to ruffle Hamilton. Lewis is in a position now where he can ‘just walk away’ if he so wanted. So if Ocon just tipped that team balance in his favour, then Mercedes would risk losing Hamilton. My wish is that its Hamilton/Russel for 2020. And then once Hamilton walks away, bring in Ocon alongside a ‘next-gen Lewis’ Russel.

Comments are closed.