Daniel Ricciardo said he did not intentionally ‘screw’ Esteban Ocon out of a drive in Formula 1 when he opted to leave Aston Martin Red Bull Racing to join the Renault Sport Formula One Team.
Ocon was set to join Renault in 2019 only for Ricciardo to jump into the vacant seat alongside Nico Hülkenberg, and subsequent driver market moves has made it likely that the Frenchman will miss out on a ride, particularly with Lance Stroll set to replace him within the Racing Point Force India F1 Team.
However, despite admitting his own move has seemingly screwed Ocon, Ricciardo does not feel there is a bigger problem within Formula 1, and there is a lot of talented young drivers coming into the sport at the current time.
“The Ocon situation, I didn’t do it to screw him,” said Ricciardo to Motorsport.com. “But the effect of my move has put him in a bit of a position now.
“I don’t know, I wouldn’t say the young driver thing because we have more younger drivers in the field than ever before. I feel old at 29. There’s kids below their 20s in F1. I don’t think it’s harder.
“There’s political stuff, there’s financial stuff, that’s always involved but I genuinely believe that pretty much the vast majority of the grid now is based around talent.
“I don’t think the sport’s in a bad place at all.”
Ricciardo says he does not know the ins and outs of Ocon’s situation but he feels he is deserving of a ride in Formula 1, but the Frenchman would not be the first driver to miss out on a drive despite impressing during his career to date.
“I don’t know Ocon’s situation,” said Ricciardo. “If he doesn’t have a drive next year, sure he’s worthy of a drive. But I wouldn’t say he’s the first guy that’s missed it.
“It’s happened before that drivers with the talent have lost out. If he didn’t have a seat, do I think that’s the end of his F1 career? No, I don’t.
“I feel it’s always gone on, and it’s unfortunate. I don’t think it’s necessarily in a different place to what it has been.”