Esteban Ocon believes that his Formula 1 results will not be forgotten by Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport, even if he is to sit out of the 2019 championship.
Ocon lost his Racing Point F1 Team seat to ex-Williams Racing driver Lance Stroll, following the Canadian’s father’s takeover of the team last summer, and could not secure a full-time seat for the upcoming season – his Mercedes ties working against his favour with teams such as the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team and the McLaren F1 Team.
2019 will see Ocon revert to testing and reserve duties with the works Mercedes team. He also opted against partaking in other series outside of Formula 1, thinking that it will do more damage to his Formula 1 chances for 2020.
Valtteri Bottas‘s Mercedes contract expires at the end of the year and after a disappointing performance in ’18, the Finn’s future with the reigning champions looks in doubt – particularly with Ocon on the sidelines. Team boss Toto Wolff is the Frenchman’s manager and has tipped the 22-year-old to be a future world champion with the German marque. However, Wolff is adamant that the Mercedes hierarchy are “100% behind” Bottas.
Ocon is confident that Mercedes will remember his previous successes when considering its driver line-up for 2020, just as they had done in his junior formula career.
“I don’t know [if I can do any more],” Ocon said to Motorsport.com. “When you’re not racing you don’t earn anything.
“I hope that those two years were enough to prove I deserve a seat for 2020. I’m lucky to have the massive support from Mercedes. Even in difficult times they remember my potential and what I’ve done.
“That’s different to other junior programmes in F1. Mercedes remember, they don’t leave you alone, they keep supporting you and believe in your potential.”
Ocon was left disappointed in 2016 in his failure to secure a Formula 1 seat after his 2015 GP3 Series title victory. However, after a brief spell in the DTM, the chance to drive for the now-defunct Manor Racing in the final nine races of the year helped secure a drive with Force India for ’17.
Impressing against the stellar Sergio Pérez, Ocon was retained by the team for last year but could not outlast the necessary Stroll takeover – even rumoured to be losing his seat from the Singapore Grand Prix onwards.
“The only thing I can do is to do the talking on track,” he continued. “I believe everyone is happy with the work I’ve done so that’s the only thing I can do.
“The other things are not in my hands.”