Esteban Ocon, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2019

Ocon came “very close” to 2020 Mercedes seat

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In the round-up: Esteban Ocon says Mercedes gave serious consideration to promoting him to their team alongside Lewis Hamilton for the 2020 F1 season.

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Which drivers will stay and who will go at the end of 2020? Join our poll and debate here:

Grosjean should have left this year so I really would be surprised if he’s still here in 2021. With Hamilton and Vettel it’s all very 50-50 – I can’t see either of them hanging around for much longer. Hamilton’s future seems more hinged on Mercedes future intentions and I’m not sure Vettel would ever be happy playing firm number two to Leclerc – which seems to be Ferrari’s intentions.

Raikkonen I think probably will be still around unless Alfa Romeo can find someone to replace him, as Giovinazzi is certainly not good enough to ‘lead’ the team. Kvyat will probably still be at Alpha Tauri for similar reasons – there’s not many in the Red Bull driver pool to take his place yet, but of the four Red Bull drivers… it’s probably him that’s next to go.
Adam (@Rocketpanda)

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Keith Collantine
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  • 32 comments on “Ocon came “very close” to 2020 Mercedes seat”

    1. So if Alonso isn’t an ambassador for McLaren anymore does that mean he is out of seat as well for McLaren’s Indy entry?

      1. @huhhii, probably yes, with Alonso then working with Andretti instead.

    2. Well, one simple and easy way for Williams to improve is to get a better paint scheme. That bland blue just ….sucks.

    3. I think this is the end of Alonso’s prospects regarding F1, and a definitive one. It’s a shame because he could definitely become a five-time World Champion, titles in 2007, 2010 and 2012 were really close and he could get his hands on them with a little more help from his teams. I know many people will speak about decisions but I doubt you would decide differently if you were him. Hamilton has won a lottery and it’s really pretentious to judge all the other drivers for “not making right decisions” then.

      1. I wouldn’t be so sure. I personally am looking very much forward to the Alonso-Leclerc duel at Ferrari in 2021.

        1. Highly unlikely..but this could still happen. If Vettel leaves, Ferrari will be in a tough spot. Do they get a Danny Ric, who is certainly capable of leading and winning but risk a fractituos relationship between teammates, or go with a Bottas who will be a solid number 2. These are the obvious 2 choices.

          Or do you go with a proven champion who can bring you the title given the tools? It will be a hard decision, but Leclerc isn’t the finished article, I think he can gain a lot from one season with Alonso. I also believe that Alonsos relentless attitude will improve Ferraris decision making and strategy. They seem to have been lacking intensity over the years. Will Leclerc be faster than Alonso? Therein lies the 30 million dollar question. Either way, Alonso will work toward delivering the WCC or WDC for himself. Toxic or not, Alonso may be the shot up the backside Ferrari need to win.

          1. Yes. Ferrari needs another wake up call to win championships. They have come a long way since 2014 and in some other universe could have won at least one championship but last decade (feels still strange to say it) was the first one which didn’t bring any big trophies to Maranello. Whether the wake up call is Alonso, “a new Jean Todt” or something/one else they need it. They already have Leclerc but is he enough to turn the boat around.

            1. Magnus Rubensson (@)
              21st January 2020, 13:28

              I think Perez had a particularly unlucky year at McLaren.
              Perez + Leclerc at Ferrari…

        2. Yes yes and more yes! If Liberty want to attract people to F1 that’s all they have to do. Then Russell Vs. Hamilton at Mercedes, Max Vs. Vettel at Redbull.. All very possible..

        3. Somewhat sadly I think we have almost certainly seen the last of Alonso racing in an F1 car. I think he’s just getting a bit too old now for any team to really consider him as anything other than as a very short notice replacement.

          The only way I could see him driving at one of the big three teams is if they were quite suddenly left short, and even then it’s quite doubtful. Maybe a place at Ferrari if say for example, Vettel suddenly quit at the end of 2020 and there was no one else who was not under contract. Or if Ferrari suddenly tempted away Lewis at the last minute and Merc could not get Max, Seb (retired) or Daniel as a replacement.

          If he did make a brief comeback I can really only see it being at either Ferrari or perhaps Renault?

      2. Whatever it is or isn’t, it isn’t pretentious. Id say Nico and Bottas ‘won the lottery’ also no? They have 1 WDC between them. Maybe they lost the ticket.

        I’m not a fan of this simplistic ‘he’s got the bet car so he won’. I doubt Mercedes would’ve won any of the last 2, at least without Lewis. Nico was a worthy champion, perhaps the most worthy having beaten Lewis but it damned nearly broke him.

        1. That’s an interesting hypothetical – if it was hamilton retiring at the end of 2016, would rosberg (a) have stayed on at all and (b) been able to lead the team to the 2017 title? vettel was strong that year, but the ferrari let him down a few times, and there were some errors on his part too, all of which led to a reasonably comfortable win for hamilton. but would rosberg have been able to capitalise in the same way? i think a full strength rosberg (early 2014 or 2016-vintage perhaps), without lewis in the other car, would have been a formidable competitor. i have my doubts that he would be able to maintain that high level for a whole season (and was therefore justified in calling time on his career – and what a career: 206 starts, 23 wins and 1 title, pretty damn impressive, especially when you consider he had no wins after 110 of those starts).

        2. I don’t think Rosberg “won the lottery” in the same way that it is used to describe Hamilton’s move to Merc. Rosberg was performing okay in a middling Williams team when Mercedes decided to rejoin F1. They wanted German drivers and he was seen as a safe No 2 for MSC. He put in time at the team (2010-2013) before they got a pack-leading car. He definitely had some breaks go his way in 2016, so in that respect he did have some luck on his side.

          I’m not sure Bottas won the lottery. Best Merc option when Rosberg retired, and certainly nice to have the best car and collect wins and poles and fast laps. But I suspect that’s all it will be for him as he has no chance of beating Hamilton over a season.

          Hamilton has made the right moves. Whether that was down to his intuition, knowing something we didn’t, luck, whatever. He has certainly benefited from it, but that’s part of racing—being in the right team at the right time. If Merc had got it wrong in 2014, it would be a different discussion.

      3. There is still a slim chance that we might see Alonso back in red, if Kimi retires.

      4. @pironitheprovocateur Alonso was beaten by “Rookie Hamilton”. Even with McLaren being more behind Alonso. Going to so far to gift Alonso the Monaco win (at such extremes that FIA was investigating the team orders)

        Current level Hamilton would completely destroy Alonso.

      5. Red Bull could well be left with Gasly and Kvyat if Mercedes do call on Verstappen for 2021 (forget his RBR contract, this is F1), and in that case they could in reality just pack up.

        Not calling in Alonso in such a scenario would be crazy.

        1. ..meant Albon and Gasly

    4. Very close, and until the last moment there were discussions…

      Nope! There was absolutely no chance of Esteban getting a seat at Mercedes while they had a chance of getting Max in their team… unless, of course, both Josh and Max said it was okay. Maybe there was a chance After Red
      Bull had gotten Max to sign a contract, but it was never going to happen before he’d signed. The same would have happened at Ferrari: Esteban wasn’t ever going to get a contract there until they knew which team Max was going to race for over the next few seasons.

      1. Bottas was confirmed by Mercedes for 2020 in August 2019
        Ocon was also confirmed by Renault in August 2019
        RedBull confirmed Max and Alex for 2020 in November 2019
        How then your theory holds?

      2. That’s like saying that Robert DeNiro will be “very close” to getting the Oscar for best actor this year. He’s probably nominated but we all know Joaquin Phoenix will get it hands down.

        Ocon might have been in the mix because he’s tallented, available and involved in Merc but a 2020 seat was never a possibility.

        Maybe if Bottas hadn’t raised his game towards the end of the season things would have been different.

      3. @drycrust Why would Mercedes be interested in Verstappen? Where does this come from? Only if Hamilton leaves would they need to find someone to fill that spot.

        Assuming Verstappen is up for it at all since even last year Verstappen blundered 3 races away quite comprehensibly and underperformed (struggled to find a setup or whatever) in about 3 others.

    5. Regarding Dieter’s tweet: That doesn’t look badly rusty to me, though.

      Yes, it indeed can/could still get worse, but hopefully not.

      1. I think the fact that its absolutely horrible is more disappointing, the great man deserves better but I think Jim Clark’s memorial at Hockenheim is even less looked after and consists of a small stone plaque. Maybe Liberty could look at this and put some proper, non tacky, non corporate sponsored memorials to this, its part of the history of the sport and occasionally the present, we certainly shouldn’t forget the sport is never immune from tragedy.

      2. The pillars were painted white when erected. What looks like corrosion is probably actually the last remnant of their original condition.

    6. Regarding Williams, I see no difference over the years. Every year they only manage to pass their crash test at the LAST attempt! ;-)

      1. LOL, indeed – I wonder how many other teams have a similar record jj_0!

        1. Williams have a problem or two. The main practical one is staffing – holding on to good people and attracting new talent. Anyone good will be on the lookout for a berth at a top team. A few old hands still rule the roost at Grove, and that is probably holding them back. If ever there was a team that needed some new thinking it’s Williams. Someone over there should read Edwin Hutchins’ book Cognition in the Wild. Maybe I’ll send them a copy.

    7. If you haven’t read the Ocon interview, he gave a surprising response when asked, “Lots of drivers speak fondly of their karting days, do you miss those days?”

      I don’t, I really don’t! I really don’t because it’s a hard period of my career and my life. It was not an enjoyable time. It was part of my life where my parents sacrificed massively and if I didn’t perform it was over. I had a lot of pressure on my shoulders and I also had big responsibilities for my family, because if I did not perform we were going to be in trouble. I even hate those times! I mean, it brought me here [to F1], which is fantastic and I am enjoying my life massively, and of course there were great memories when we were winning, but there were also very tough moments. It’s good that we made it.

      1. Interesting insight @shimks, thanks for posting that.

    8. At keast we had a year off nocon. I hope he doesn’t get worse. Started as a hero ended up as a zero.

    9. Just like Wehrlein, also let go by Mercedes, he seems to have a rather unpleasant character. I think there is only one team he should and could drive for, which is Renault. They are equally … dont know how to put it. Lets just say they do not lack self confidence despite all their achievements are not lving up to what they say at all

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