Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says he “can guarantee” that Esteban Ocon will be in a “good car” in 2020, amid the ongoing saga surrounding his future.
Ocon is poised to lose the Force India seat he has held for the last two years, while prior negotiations with Renault were almost finalised before the team swooped to sign Daniel Ricciardo.
It has ostensibly left Mercedes-backed Ocon as the loser of an unpredictable driver market, though one opportunity remains open at Williams, which has so far signed only George Russell.
Williams has made it clear that Ocon is one of the drivers on its shortlist but that it will be difficult to sign the 22-year-old without receiving additional funding.
Wolff says Mercedes has prepared a back-up plan for Ocon should he miss out, and is confident that the youngster will be in a strong position for 2020, even if he fails to land a 2019 ride.
“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.
“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’.”