Toto Wolff has hit out at Formula 1 rivals for “hidden agendas and lies” amid the ongoing uncertainty over Esteban Ocon’s future.
Ocon has been backed by Mercedes since his 2015 title-winning GP3 season, an association that facilitated his graduation to Formula 1 with Manor and subsequent Force India switch.
But Ocon is poised to lose his Force India seat to Lance Stroll and options elsewhere appear limited for the Frenchman to remain on the 2019 grid.
Ocon is understood to have held an agreement to join Renault on loan only for the manufacturer to sign Daniel Ricciardo as Nico Hulkenberg’s team-mate.
Wolff, who risks seeing none of Mercedes’ junior drivers on the 2019 grid, expressed frustration at the situation.
“I think what not only us but what some of the teams are doing with the young driver programme is to raise the level and to have the good kids in Formula 1, the ones that win championships, and deserve to be there,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1.
“And what’s been going on this year in July and August was just unbelievable, there was so much politics in the background, hidden agendas, lies.
“Not all of the good kids are going to end up in cars and probably Esteban will be one of them, but we’ll look after him, he’s one of the future stars.
“In July he [Ocon] had two offers on the table with contracts and it was just a matter of choosing which one was the right one and he ended up not having any anymore because people just simply don’t have the balls to stick to what they say.
“But it’s no problem, we have to sort it out with Esteban, he’s a strong guy, he has been through difficult moments in his career, we’ll fix this one as well.”
When asked whether Mercedes would consider releasing the youngster if afforded a chance elsewhere Wolff shot back: “Not in a million years because one day he’s going to be in a Mercedes and win races and championships and show all the others out there they made a mistake.”