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Wolff: Placing Ocon alongside Hamilton in 2020 would've 'risked Ocon's career'

  • Published on 08 Jan 2020 10:24
  • comments 7
  • By: Fergal Walsh

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes it would have been to large a risk for Esteban Ocon's career to place him alongside Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes in 2020.

Ocon, who has been part of the Mercedes junior programme for a number of years, was in contention for the seat at the Silver Arrows, however, in the end, Valtteri Bottas was retained for a fourth year.

Ocon signed with Renault and will join Daniel Ricciardo at the team this year, returning to the grid after spending a year on the sidelines in 2019.

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However Wolff believes that it was not a smart idea to place a returning Ocon alongside Hamilton, who is at the "peak of his career".

"Putting him against Hamilton, who has been with Mercedes for seven years and is at the peak of his career, is not good for him, especially after a year off," Wolff is quoted by Speed Week.

"It may have been an exciting story and he probably he would have done well, but there is only one guy who did well against a superstar and that was Lewis Hamilton," he added, referring to Fernando Alonso in 2007.

"Drivers need time, and I don't want to risk his career or that he risks doing anything to win against Lewis. That was the critical point."

The intra-team atmosphere at Mercedes has cooled in recent years following the retirement of Nico Rosberg, thus ending his rivalry with Hamilton.

Wolff insists that he is "proud" of the harmonious mood that has been created within the team as part of the Hamilton and Bottas partnership.

"When managing drivers, you have to be aware of the fact that they are realising their dreams and their main goal is to win the title," he said.

"This can lead to tensions because these goals do not always match the team's goals.

"But I'm really proud that over the years we've always managed to get the drivers behind Mercedes' goal of becoming one of the world's most successful sports teams."

Replies (7)

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  • denis1304

    Posts: 260

    Wolff... just shut up. Hamilton has a veto and you have no balls.

    • + 1
    • Jan 8 2020 - 14:12
    • No balls? This is a tacit admission that Ocon is not of the caliber required to be at Mercedes. I don't think many beleivr Ocon would do any better than Bottas.

      • + 0
      • Jan 8 2020 - 16:48
    • denis1304

      Posts: 260

      @ajpennypacker F1 is already too predictable in regards to who will win championship after couple of races, now that there is no Rosberg at Mercedes, we also know there will be no drama on the road to Abu Dabi... that is why I say, Wolff has no balls

      • + 1
      • Jan 9 2020 - 14:09
  • Kean

    Posts: 623

    Feeling very lonely over here.... seems like I'm the only one that holds Ocon in really high regard. The natural speed is there, he showed that against Perez. Ocon outqualified him and then some. What he needs is racecraft, maturity, just like Verstappen, Leclerc, Norris.... I predict that in quali Ricciardo is gonna have a tougher time against Ocon than he had agaist Hulkenberg. Ricciardo will likely fare better in the races, but come 2021 Ocon will be someone to be reckoned with given Renault delivers a good car.

    • + 0
    • Jan 8 2020 - 17:35
    • Maybe... I actually hope you are right. The show benefits from having better drivers on the grid. However, when it comes to Ocon... I think at best he was marginally better than Perez. I actually think that other than qualifying Perez was better in every other way. Consequently, I would argue that Ocon as of 2018 was about 95% as good as Perez. I agree that there is potential, but my main concern was his racecraft, which didn't seem to improve very much over those two years. A bit like Bottas.

      • + 0
      • Jan 8 2020 - 21:30
  • Ocon has a habit of bumping into his team mate too - not sure Merc wanted that either !

    • + 0
    • Jan 8 2020 - 21:47
    • The bumping into Perez wasn't all Ocon's fault. However, I fault him in the way he managed it when it happened. Add that to the fact that Ocon was clearly at fault for a couple of those incidents and the result is that he has a bit of a reputation.

      • + 0
      • Jan 8 2020 - 23:45

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