user icon

Ocon predicts driver shake-up for 2019 season

  • Published on 10 Dec 2017 12:27
  • comments 1
  • By: Fergal Walsh

Esteban Ocon thinks that the 2019 season will see a lot of movement in the driver market, and hasn't ruled himself out of a potential move to Mercedes. The Frenchman is a Mercedes junior driver and impressed in 2017, scoring points at all but two races for Force India.

A number of drivers are out of contract after the 2018 season, and it thought that the grid will see a number of driver transfers for the following year. Ocon will race once again with Force India next season, and will bring the experience from his first full season into the new term.

"2019 is going to pretty open for everyone," he said to Sky Sports. "I think there are going to be a lot of movements so if you do a strong job and a good season, then there will be opportunities there. I want to start the season strongly with the experience I have gained this year, and then we'll see."

Force India wrapped up fourth place in the constructor's championship for the second year running, despite losing Nico Hulkenberg to Renault. However, Force India's COO Otmar Szafnauer stated that sometimes loaning a driver is better than buying.

"Sometimes leasing is better than buying," Szafnauer acknowledged. "They might take him back, and I think the better he does the more likelihood of him stepping into a Mercedes role at some point. But for next year he is with us. We'll see what the future holds but I think he will continue to improve."

Ocon has been tipped as a "superstar of the future" by Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, with some believing a championship fight for the 21-year-old it is a matter of when, not if. When Ocon went head to head with F1 superstar Max Verstappen in F3, it was Ocon who emerged on top.

It is certainly a battle to look out for in the future: "I was quicker than him, for sure," Ocon stated. "I got a lot more poles than he did. I don't know if I'm quicker than him now, but I think so.

"You can't really compare any more, you need to be in the same car to fight together. Maybe it's going to happen at some point, I don't know. But he's really doing a good job at the moment and he's one of the best drivers on the grid."

Verstappen recently signed an extension to his Red Bull contract. Szafnauer said that it is very difficult to know who is the faster driver, but is happy that Force India secured Ocon for a much smaller price than Red Bull did with the Dutchman.

"It's hard to know [who the quicker driver is] because they're driving different cars," admitted Szafnauer. "But I like to think that Max has just signed a big contract with Red Bull, and we've got Ocon for probably a hundredth of the price. I think Esteban is just as good."

 

Fergal Walsh

Replies (1)

Login to reply
  • How I wish Force India got some serious funding... I've been impressed with them for many years now. As for Ocon... I'd be happy to see him replace Bottas mid-year if Bottas continues to underperform. Similar to what happened with Verstappen and Kvyat

    • + 0
    • Dec 11 2017 - 19:18

BE Grand Prix of Belgium

Local time 

BE Grand Prix of Belgium

Local time 

Related news

World Championship standings 2022

Show full world champion standings

Test calendar

See full test schedule

Give your opinion!

Will Bottas challenge Hamilton for the world championship in 2020?

Driver profile

  • Team Red Bull Racing
  • Points 1,899
  • Podiums 73
  • Grand Prix 158
  • Country NL
  • Date of b. Sep 30 1997 (25)
  • Place of b. Hasselt (Belgie), NL
  • Weight 70 kg
  • Length 1.8 m
Show full profile

Team profile

Show full profile

Formula 1 Calendar - 2022

Date
Grand Prix
Circuit
-
Spain
-
Bahrain
18 - Mar 20
Bahrain
25 - Mar 27
Saudi Arabia
8 - Apr 10
Australia
22 - Apr 24
Italy
6 - May 8
United States of America
20 - May 22
Spain
27 - May 29
Monaco
10 - Jun 12
Azerbaijan
17 - Jun 19
Canada
1 - Jul 3
United Kingdom
8 - Jul 10
Austria
22 - Jul 24
France
29 - Jul 31
Hungary
26 - Aug 28
Belgium
2 - Sep 4
Netherlands
9 - Sep 11
Italy
30 - Oct 2
Singapore
See full schedule

Formula 1 Calendar - 2022

Date
Grand Prix & Circuit
18 - Mar 20
25 - Mar 27
Saudi Arabia Jeddah Street Circuit
8 - Apr 10
Australia Albert Park
22 - Apr 24
6 - May 8
United States of America Miami International Autodrome
20 - May 22
27 - May 29
Monaco Monte Carlo
10 - Jun 12
Azerbaijan Baku City Circuit
17 - Jun 19
1 - Jul 3
United Kingdom Silverstone
8 - Jul 10
Austria Red Bull Ring
22 - Jul 24
France Paul Ricard
29 - Jul 31
Hungary Hungaroring
26 - Aug 28
2 - Sep 4
Netherlands Circuit Zandvoort
9 - Sep 11
Italy Monza
30 - Oct 2
See full schedule
show sidebar