Esteban Ocon is on the verge of exiting Formula 1, confirming Mercedes’ unsuccessful attempts to place him next year. The Frenchman admitted in Singapore that the chances to see him in F1 in 2019 are ‘less and less’, but assured he does not hold any grudges against his management despite the fact that Toro Rosso (and more teams) openly rejected him due to such connections.
Pascal Wehrlein and Mercedes have parted ways in the course of the Singapore Grand Prix weekend, suggesting that he sustained negotiations for a potential F1 comeback. The German is now on pole for the second virtually vacant Toro Rosso seat, given that Kvyat is poised to be announced next weekend in Sochi.
Wehrlein’s moves set an example that Ocon ought to follow, in order to save his F1 and, more broadly, racing career. Being a protégé or simply having someone influential as your manager should be a plus, an incentive to your career, whereas Esteban Ocon had teams shutting the door on him, he has been held back, as he currently is Mercedes-branded.
The F1 power game works according to compatibility and links. Rival junior programmes and managements cannot come together, as the spheres of influence exerted by top teams set real barriers. It may be good for some, but for others it may turn into their worst nightmare.
Sergio Perez admitted he would like to be a part of Mercedes or Ferrari’s programmes rather than being a free agent, as opportunities would flow more frequently. However, it was not the case with Ocon and I would dare say seeing a similar press release to the one regarding Wehrlein would be a blessing, unless his aspiration is to keep flailing around and hope for a Williams seat along with 3 more drivers.
It also appears that Sergio Perez subtly mocked his teammate, as he said "But as for Esteban, he has great support from Toto, so he is in a privileged position”. Unfortunately, anything but hope is infused by Wolff’s words, as he sounds rather carefree when dealing with this matter: “We are at a crossroads at the moment. We are going to see how it pans out with George and Esteban and then decide how we continue.”
“It doesn’t feel right for someone like Esteban to sit out a year, but we have seen it in the past.” Obviously, he is not the first nor the last who is reportedly going to lose at the F1 ‘musical chairs’ game but the whole picture becomes disheartening, especially considering the amount of talent lost by the sport due to ineffective management combined with wrong timing.
Ocon’s defeated attitude emerged as he affirmed he would be willing to settle for a third-driver role, if he runs out of options completely. He only set his sights on F1 and he does not want to look elsewhere, as he is afraid of losing the grip with the category for good. However, scouring the motorsport field for a seat could be more constructive than focusing on one challenge.