Esteban Ocon, Mercedes, Shanghai International Circuit, 2019

Ocon in, Hulkenberg out at Renault in 2020

2020 F1 season

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Esteban Ocon will return to Formula 1 next year after signing a deal to drive for Renault.

The team has confirmed the Mercedes junior driver will partner Daniel Ricciardo next year. Ocon has joined the team on a two-year deal.

The news means Nico Hulkenberg is set to leave the French manufacturer team at the end of the season after three years with them.

Ocon said he is “very proud to become a Renault driver” having worked with the team earlier in his career.

“I have grown up at Enstone, starting with Lotus in 2010 and then with Renault. I am very attached to this team and everyone who works there; they are the ones who opened the doors of top level motorsport for me.

“Secondly, I am pleased that a team with big ambitions has entrusted me with the opportunity to once again demonstrate my skills at the highest level of F1. It is a responsibility I take very seriously. The confidence they have in me to help the progression of the team is a very positive pressure and I look forward to giving the best of myself.”

Ocon came close to signing for Renault last year before they hired Ricciardo, then found himself without a driver after Lance Stroll took his place at Racing Point.

“Over his F1 career Esteban has experienced the highs and lows of the sport, and fully understood the need to seize every possible chance,” said Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul.

“In addition to lending his natural talent, Esteban’s aim will be to focus his natural energy and drive, both of which have been intensified by a year away from racing. It is then up to us to infuse them into the next phase of the team’s progress.

“He has shown his ability to score points, has great professionalism on and off the track, plus his recent experience as reserve driver to the current world champions will be a valuable asset to the development of our entire team.”

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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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43 comments on “Ocon in, Hulkenberg out at Renault in 2020”

  1. Two yeas so no Merc next year then.

    1. Exactly

      and a big mistake by Renault

  2. Man, Renault must really still be angry at Verstappen over all his engine comments ;-)

      1. Twas just a joke about how Renault stole away Ricciardo and now Verstappen’s nemesis Ocon, and the sort of mutual antagonism between Renault and Red Bull

  3. Most likely Hulkenberg to Haas
    Hoping for Hulkenberg to Red Bull giving him a far better chance for that 1st podium.

    1. He’s had plenty of opportunities but has bottled every single one – Brazil 2012, Azerbaijan 2017(?), Germany 2019 and a few others I’m sure I can’t remember. Good, consistent upper midfield driver with no cutting edge.

    2. Most likely Hulkenberg to Haas

      @jelle-van-der-meer If that’s the case, we’ll be in for a ball-sucking treat.

      1. Well Haas could withdraw after 2020 so Steiners team could only offer Hulk a one year deal. If they end up leaving..

      2. @ninjenius lol my beer almost came out of my nose. Top stuff.

  4. Good for Esteban. Now let’s see how he performs!

    It was expected of course, but still I can’t help but wonder at the speed the dominos fall .

    I wouldn’t be surprised if we have more announcements before the end of the weekend.

  5. Poor Hulkenberg.

    1. “Poor Hulkenberg’

      Maybe, maybe not.

      Rumours are strong of Hulkenberg to Haas to replace one of their drivers.

      Hulkenberg may not always be the quickest and he seems to have atrocious luck with reliability at times, but he also tends to stay out of trouble and Haas may need at least one driver that can stay out of trouble.

      I do think a Hulkenberg/Magnusson pairing could be a strong line up.

      1. Imagine Hulkenberg with the driver who told him to suck his ****s.

      2. Not only rumours. Steiner said three names were shortlisted for the seat next to Kevin; Hulkenberg, Ocon and Grossjean. Ocon is out of that list now and I can’t see them continuing with Romain, so it looks promising for Nico. Hope he will join Haas

  6. Is he the first driver to have a confirmed seat for 2021 then?

    1. @Sumedh Realistically, he can’t be as Renault commitment to F1 beyond the end of next season isn’t a given, which equally applies to the other teams, especially the manufacturer-teams as well.

  7. Kinda disappointed in this news to be honest. I’m still not sold on Ocon, so I suppose we’ll see how he fairs.

    I expect Hulkenberg to go to Haas, but I do think he deserves a lot better. He’s a weird one, really good but never seems to be in the right place at the right time.

  8. Well I was wrong about his Merc seat.
    Is he on loan or has he finished up with Merc? Also why Renault they are seriously under performing. I get that he couldn’t afford to sit than sit out another yr, but why not Haas?
    Anyway good luck to him and Botas.

    1. Jose Lopes da Silva
      29th August 2019, 13:54

      Because they are a constructor.

    2. @johnrkh Will Buxton on Paddock Pass says it’s unclear. Looks like he’s a Renault driver now but maybe Mercedes has an option on him for when his contract will expire. Speculations, anyway.

  9. Hulkenberg for Panthera 2021?

  10. Im with @rocketpanda. I’m not ready to get on the Ocon bandwagon.

    While he’s a good prospect, I don’t see him doing any more than Hulkenberg.

    I’m sorry for Nico. He deserved better over the years. Sure he bottled a couple of golden opportunities and those don’t come often, but he didn’t have an easy path in his career either.

    1. @fer-no65

      Im with @rocketpanda. I’m not ready to get on the Ocon bandwagon.

      I feel the same way guys. Seems like swapping like for like to me.
      Oh well – we will see.

      1. Ocon is way more incident prone then Hulk, though. But he also has a lot more upside and of course, he’s French, which is what Renault want.

    2. I think the behaviour from Ocon after the Vestappen incident along with his unwillingness to back down when racing his teammate may have made the decision for Mercedes. He sounded and looked very immature at times and not a team player. Time will tell if he can make the grade though. Not beating Perez though who was comfortably put in place by Button who was arguably one of the good but not great tier of the drivers doesn’t bode well.

  11. An entirely expected announcement following the recent reports but at the same time a bit of a shame, I’m happy that Ocon is going to return to being a full-time race driver but unhappy that it comes at the expense of Hulkenberg. Hopefully, he’d manage to land himself a drive from one of the remaining options for next season. BTW, despite the reporting, realistically he can only be guaranteed for next season at present since Renault’s commitment to F1 beyond the 2020 Abu Dhabi GP isn’t a given.

  12. All the signs point to HAAS for Hulk, but we all know him and K-Mag will be worse than putting Bojo and Corbin in the same taxi in terms of atmosphere… Hopefully Grosjean turns a corner, reminds us all what he can do when he’s in the zone, and they team him up with Hulk – would be a much better fit, and having a “nice guy” team mate might keep Romain on the right side of his massive performance spectrum.

  13. Today is the day that Bottas gets to keep his seat in a race-winning car, because he makes his team mate happy, but Hülkenberg is shown the door.
    In others words, today has been one of those days where F1 is a lot like a bad joke without a punchline.

  14. Good move from mercedes. Ricciardo is excellent benchmark and this gives safe option for mercedes to see what ocon can do. Toto gets his signing bonus as well.

    I don’t understand renault’s motives for this at all though. If ocon does well he is going to mercedes in 2021 and renault needs another driver. And ocon needs to do better than he did at force india against perez to finish ahead of ricciardo. If he does poorly renault needs to find another driver.

    With the amount of penny pinching going on at renault I don’t believe they’ll be strong in 2021 onwards either. The mercedes money must have been good for renault but all in all this move makes no sense to me in any other case except if renault is planning to leave f1 after 2020 season… in which case having mercedes pay for ocon’s seat makes more sense than paying hulk. Maybe that panthera team is going to be panthrenault with renault continuing as engine manufacturer like honda selling engines to teams that have no other choices.

    1. If ocon does well he is going to mercedes in 2021 and renault needs another driver.

      @socksolid Better to get two years out of a driver that “does well”. It’s not like Renault and Mercedes are competitors right now, or anytime in the near future.

  15. So….Ocon has a two year contract and Bottas a one year extension. Russell is on a three year deal with two to go after this year. Hamilton is out of contract in one more year.

    No wonder Toto has a headache.

    I wonder if there is a break clause in Ocon’s contract as there is supposed to be in Ricciardo’s, a break clause if Merc make an offer?

    More complications. Nice to have choices but…….

    My best guess is Ocon and Russell will end up at Mercedes 2021 or 2022 if both perform well in the meantime as Hamilton may quit in 2022 and Bottas will have had his chance.

    1. When enough money is involved there is no need for a break clause. As a mentor of mine used to say; “everything solid will turn fluid with the correct ammount of pressure or money”

      1. Nice one-liner, but Toto isn’t that stupid. It makes more business sense to write in a clause than to think ‘whatever, I’ll spend money later’.

        1. But is he still a Mercedes driver? Do they want him back?
          I am not sure

    2. Maybe Toto doesn’t want Ocon but has good data on him from simulators and wants to use him to assess how good Riciardo is, so he can potentially replace Bottas or Hamilton for 2021.

      Simmilar to what I think RedBull are doing with Gasly, benchmarking him against Kyvat as known quantity.

  16. So with Bottas at Mercedes for another year, Ocon at Renault for two, What are they going to do with Russell?
    Unless they find a way for him to get a spot at Racing point next year or in 2021, There will be 4 Drivers vying for the Top team seats. We know Hamilton doesn’t like an sometimes unruly Teammate like Ocon. Russell has to show that he can deliver in a better car prior to being given the Top seat. Makes me wonder what Hamiltons plans are for the future. It seems like Ocon and Russell are the Mercedes future drivers. But with a two year deal at Renault, I wonder if Russell will get a shot at Bottas seat for 2021 and Ocon will be again on the outside looking in.

  17. Don’t get the hype about Ocon at all. He performed on a Perez level and never showed anything special. Between him and Hulkenborg I can’t see the point in the change – both are average drivers.

  18. Good move. Ricciardo is definitely overrated so I expected Hulk to handle him with ease, but that hasn’t happened. Ocon deserves a seat, Grosjean doesn’t, Hulk to Haas and if he does well he could replace Vettel. Everyone wins.

    1. Just hoping all the best for @hugh11 Are you OK? Need a drink? I have some extra! I’m Kimi fan after all…

  19. For me it’s a good move. I was impressed by Ocon’s consistency and overall speed in his first year, and to be honest Hulk had his fair share of opportunity in different teams to try to show he’s big team material. When the pressure mounts he never showed to deliver, and I think that counts. Maybe he can be a good move to Haas, it would fit well at Racing Point should Lance didn’t own the team, but maybe he will be a good fit for Williams. He’s been there, and it would be a good benchmark for Russell, also Williams will profit from his experience.

  20. I don’t get this move. Ocon has been beaten by Perez 2/2 seasons. Ocon is immensely overrated.

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