Renault: Mercedes will have no call on Esteban Ocon
Renault has stressed that Mercedes will have “no right” on Esteban Ocon’s services until at least 2022, following the Frenchman’s move to the team.
Ocon has been affiliated with Mercedes since 2015 and has spent 2019 as the marque’s test and reserve driver, having missed out on a race seat.
It was confirmed on Thursday that Ocon will return to the grid in 2020 with Renault, partnering Daniel Ricciardo, after signing a two-year deal.
“He’s a Renault driver, that’s very clear,” outlined Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul.
“Mercedes will have absolutely no right on him for the duration of his contract.
“So, a small difference is that his management company happens to be a racing team, and that’s Mercedes.
“But it’s a slightly different set-up from the set-up we had with Carlos [Sainz Jr]. last year, where that was on loan and not under contract with Red Bull, but he [Ocon] will be a fully-fledged Renault driver.”
Abiteboul added that its decision to replace Nico Hulkenberg with Ocon was partly motivated by a desire to bring a “reset” to the team.
“When you make a decision like that, you don’t just look at pure pace, you also need to look at the collective dynamic,” said Abiteboul.
“And there is a dynamic we need to restart, reset into the team. And probably, we need to project ourselves into the medium to long-term future. So not just 2020 but also 2021, and what’s happening to his team-mate and so on and so forth.
“So that’s all of that but in particular the collective dynamic and what Esteban can probably bring to the team.
“He’s probably starving for racing, being super-happy to come back into racing, by nature, by construction because also he’s been out of a seat for a year.
“It’s all of these elements that we factored into the equation. Plus, also it’s important to say that we have, not a certainty because you can’t be certain of anything, but very high chances that Nico will be able to continue his racing career.
“So, just like it counted for us with Carlos last year, it’s also counted for us this year with Nico.”