Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff says that his junior driver Esteban Ocon is guaranteed a good seat in Formula 1 when 2020 rolls around. The Frenchman could be without a drive for next year, as he is looking to Williams as his last opportunity.
The 22-year-old is set to leave Force India at the end of the year to be replaced by Lance Stroll. Ocon confirmed that he is in talks with Williams over a 2019 seat, but the team say that there are many factors to consider before taking him on, such as the money he will bring.
Ocon has impressed in his so far short F1 career and had deals on the table with Renault and McLaren earlier this year before they decided to look the other way. The former Manor driver has been linked with Valtteri Bottas' seat at Mercedes in 2020, and Wolff says that he will absolutely be in a good position in twelve months time.
"You know they say only fools are optimists, and in July I was really optimistic of having Esteban in a Renault,” said Wolff. “So I don’t know. It’s not our call. Williams needs to make up their mind who they think is the best driver for their team.
“It’s not only Esteban, I think there’s Robert [Kubica] in the frame and others," the Austrian continued. "And all of them deserve the chance, so Williams will make their choice.
"We are prepared for ‘Plan B’ with Esteban, one thing I can guarantee for you is he’s going to be in a good car in 2020 because there are many teams out there that have an interest in Esteban. We will try to facilitate [things] where we can but there’s nothing I could say ‘this is going to help him into the car’.”
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing