The decision that saw Esteban Ocon make the move to the Sahara Force India F1 Team for the 2017 Formula 1 season was made by those at the Silverstone-based team rather than within the Mercedes camp, says Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff.
Both Ocon and fellow Mercedes-protégé Pascal Wehrlein were both in contention for the role to replace Nico Hülkenberg, who has switched across to the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team in 2017, but Dr Vijay Mallya and his team decided the Frenchman was the best choice for the team rather than the German.
Wolff understands that it was clear that Force India wanted Ocon, and all that was required from the Austrian was to ratify the move with his own engineering team.
“It was not my decision in terms of who went to Force India,” said Wolff to Autosport. “Force India had a very clear view that they would like to work with Esteban, they tested both and I think they felt they got on well with Esteban and that was within the right frame of mind to be working with them.
“We’re all human beings, you have more sympathy for one and less for the other. That’s why the engineering group ratified their decision with Vijay [Mallya].”