Mercedes to phase out Esteban Ocon through rest of 2019

Esteban Ocon with Alain Prost

Mercedes will gradually phase out Esteban Ocon through the remainder of 2019, now that the youngster has secured a return to the Formula 1 grid with Renault.

Ocon, following spells at Manor and Force India, took up a reserve role with Mercedes – which has backed his career since 2015 – this season.

Ocon has undertaken extensive running in the team’s simulator, particularly on Friday nights at grands prix weekends, and has attended high-level debriefs and meetings.

It was confirmed prior to the Belgian Grand Prix that Ocon will return to the Formula 1 grid for 2020 and 2021 after signing a deal with Renault. 

Mercedes and Ocon have already outlined a plan that will see the 22-year-old continue his simulator duties, while ensuring any sensitive 2020 information is not taken to Renault.

“Well Esteban and I discussed it a week ago – how long he should stay in the various roles,” said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.

“And I said the longer you stay the more information you are taking with you and he said of course I’m going to take all this information with me.

“It’s a transition. He’s in our simulator, it’s an important role in helping us develop the car, but step by step Esteban is going to fade out of meetings about the future, about things that are going to impact next year’s car or that we deem to be sensitive from the engineering or innovation point of view.

“But he’s with us this season and does some very valuable work that we need in order to win this championship.”

Mercedes has an array of available simulator drivers it can call upon, with development driver Esteban Gutierrez and long-term member Anthony Davidson also available.

Mercedes also has Formula E duo Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries, both formerly affiliated with McLaren, available should it wish to utilise either driver.