Toto Wolff says plans are in place for Esteban Ocon should the Frenchman not find a race seat in Formula 1 in 2019, but he knows he will be in a good car in 2020 due to the sheer amount of interest surrounding him at the present time.
The Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport had expected Ocon to be with the Renault Sport Formula One Team in 2019 but this move was called off when Daniel Ricciardo made the unexpected decision to switch to the Enstone-based squad from Aston Martin Red Bull Racing.
With just three races of the 2018 season remaining, the former GP3 Series champion has yet to find a seat on the grid for next year, with Lance Stroll almost guaranteed to be his replacement at Racing Point Force India F1 Team after Lawrence Stroll led the consortium that bought the Silverstone-based outfit in August.
Ocon still has an outside chance of being on the grid as George Russell’s team-mate at Williams Martini Racing in 2019, but Wolff acknowledges it is not Mercedes’ call to make.
“You know, they say only fools are optimists, and in July I was really optimistic on having Esteban in a Renault,” said Wolff to Motorsport.com. “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, and it’s not only Esteban, there’s Robert [Kubica] in the frame, and then 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 to you is that he is going to be in a good car in 2020, because there are many teams out there that have an interest in Esteban.”
Wolff says Mercedes will do all they can to aid Ocon in getting a drive, but he insists there is no guarantee that what they do will ultimately secure the Frenchman’s place on the grid in 2019.
“We will try to facilitate where we can,” said Wolff. “There’s nothing that I could say ‘this is going to help him into the car.’”