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Villeneuve: Mercedes choosing Ocon for 2020 would be a risk

  • Published on 13 Aug 2019 17:36
  • comments 6
  • By: Fergal Walsh

Jacques Villeneuve has advised Mercedes against bringing in its junior driver Esteban Ocon alongside Lewis Hamilton for 2020. 

Valtteri Bottas' current contract with the Silver Arrows expires at the end of the 2019 season, with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff confirming that either Ocon or Bottas would fill the seat next year.

MOREBottas has 'plan B' should he lose Mercedes drive | Hamilton responds to Rosberg age comment

With Mercedes set to make a final decision on its 2020 line-up soon, Villeneuve doesn't see why the team needs to alter its drivers.

"Why would you do that? Of course Mercedes should continue with Bottas," Villeneuve said. "How many times have they achieved P1 and P2 this season?

"Bottas is regularly faster than Hamilton, he scores his points. If he were to be half a second slower than Lewis every race, like last year, then ok, you can replace him. But that's not the case."

Ocon last raced in F1 in 2018, losing his seat at the end of the year to Lance Stroll, after the team was taken over by new owners.

The French driver spent two years with Force India, scoring 136 championship points in 41 races for the Silverstone squad - but Villeneuve doesn't think the 22-year-old has done enough to prove itself.

"Why would you take Ocon? He hasn't proven himself yet. I don't know how good he is and I would never take that risk."

Mercedes previously let Pascal Wehrlein free from its programme after it failed to find him a competitive seat, with rumours suggesting Ocon could be heading for the same fate if he doesn't secure a Mercedes drive.

However, Wolff affirmed at the Hungarian Grand Prix that Mercedes "wouldn't sabotage Esteban's career by blocking him and not releasing him to drive in Formula 1".

There is believed to be interest in Ocon from some teams regarding a 2020 drive. 

Replies (6)

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  • Should Ocon not get a race seat for 2020, he must branch out and have a discussions to replace racers slower/weaker than him ( Grosjean, Magnussen, Giovinazzi, Kubica, and to an extent Gasly ). Age is a precious thing, and he is wasting it with Mercedez.

    • + 0
    • Aug 13 2019 - 17:44
    • Agree, the kid has potential and shouldn't be sitting on the sidelines in F1 purgatory imposed by Mercedes. He's good but not getting any better just sitting in the garage on race weekends. Let him go Toto, and help him get a race seat.

      • + 0
      • Aug 15 2019 - 03:14
  • Biggs7

    Posts: 38

    I totally disagree with Jacques Villeneuve it would be the right call to give Ocon a seat, what does the development program serve if none of their development drivers never get a seat. I would rate him equal to Bottas.

    • + 0
    • Aug 13 2019 - 19:57
  • Don't normally listen to a word JV says, but in this sense I think he is right - if he's not better than Bottas, why replace Bottas?

    • + 1
    • Aug 13 2019 - 22:02
  • f1dave

    Posts: 782

    Joke of the day . . . . "Jacques Villeneuve has advised"

    • + 1
    • Aug 14 2019 - 15:21
  • "Bottas is regularly faster than Hamilton, he scores his points. If he were to be half a second slower than Lewis every race, like last year, then ok, you can replace him. But that's not the case."

    Pretty much sums it up. Ocon not at the same level.

    • + 1
    • Aug 15 2019 - 03:10

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