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Hamilton: Ocon deserves F1 seat over pay drivers

  • Published on 26 Aug 2018 10:02
  • comments 4
  • By: Fergal Walsh

Lewis Hamilton has defended Esteban Ocon amid suggestions that the Frenchman is about to lose his seat to Lance Stroll. Stroll's father, Lawrence, led a consortium of investors over the summer break to buy the team and pull it from administration.

Following a dramatic qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps, where Ocon qualified a magnificent third, he was heard telling fellow driver Sebastian Vettel that Stroll had bought his seat. And it is expected that the Canadian will be in the Force India at Monza next weekend.

Hamilton has questioned Formula 1's system, where, in his mind, money seems to speak louder than talent: “I’ve always been a supporter of Esteban’s,” said the the four-time world champion. “I think how he conducts himself and how he performs on track is exceptional.

“Unfortunately we’re in a weird place in Formula 1 where you’ve got some teams that, rather than take a new up-and-coming kid, they’ll take whoever’s got the money. Which means the structure of the sport is probably wrong, and how the funds are distributed, or whatever it is.

“I also know, once Sebastian [Vettel] had signed, once I’d signed, things start to fall into place and you’ve got to be super-super quick and make sure you’ve got good management, so they’re sharp and make sure they do their diligence and they’re ready to quick-fire in the right direction. I’ve not read who’s signed where and what seats are available but he needs to be in a great car because he’s one of the top drivers here so I hope that opportunity is there for him.”

Ocon was set to join Renault for the 2019 season before the French squad announced that it had scooped up Daniel Ricciardo. Ocon could be on his way to McLaren, however problems reportedly arose from an initial seat fitting at the Woking squad.

As Ocon is a Mercedes junior, the Silver Arrows' boss Toto Wolff expressed his confidence in finding a seat for him: “I have no doubt that Ocon will win races and compete for championships in the future,” he said. “We have seen the talent today again, and generally I must say that the performance of Force India and also Checo [Perez] is impressive.

“We thought [Ocon’s] future was clear around Budapest and it all changed within 48 hours. But it is how it is, it makes no sense to complain. I think Renault having secured Ricciardo has made a coup for the team in a positive way. It’s a no-brainer when you have a possibility of signing such a calibre of driver that you have to go for it.

“How things panned out was unfortunate for Esteban. We will continue to help him in finding a short-term solution for him to drive. There is a lot of interest out there and it’s just a matter of scanning the market in the next few days to choose the right option for him and for the team. But I’m very optimistic for his future.”

 

Fergal Walsh

Replies (4)

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  • cricho

    Posts: 78

    Completely agree with HAM. It is directly related to the quality of the show and the racing. Too much amazing talents out there to have Drivers like STR, ERI, GRO Taking their place in F1.
    Its F1!! Come on...!

    • + 1
    • Aug 26 2018 - 14:22
    • Generally agree. Grosjean isnt really a pay driver though. Say what you want about the fella, Im not fond of him, but he aint exactly a pay driver.

      • + 0
      • Aug 26 2018 - 14:25
    • Let me do one better, his racing style is bad, but he is highly talented, and deserve to be in his current seat.

      • + 1
      • Aug 26 2018 - 17:42
  • This whole argument about pay drivers is ridiculous. Every driver in F1 is beholden to someone somewhere. The pay or sponsorship has to come from somewhere.

    • + 0
    • Aug 27 2018 - 17:55
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