Mercedes-AMG Motorsport boss Toto Wolff has said he decided against giving junior driver Esteban Ocon a full-time race seat this year, fearful it would have a negative impact on his career, due to the pressure from six-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton.
However, Wolff chose to keep the current pairing of Hamilton and Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas; Ocon has instead signed a two-year with the Renault F1 Team, partnering Daniel Ricciardo.
The Austrian is confident he made the right choice, feeling it would not be good for Ocon’s career to be pitted against Hamilton while he is at the top of his game.
“The swinging argument for me was, putting Ocon against Hamilton, who has been with Mercedes for seven years and is at the peak of his game, is not good for him, especially after sitting out one year,” Wolff is quoted as saying by GPFans.com.
“We might find the story exciting and probably he would have done well but there is only one guy who ever did well against a superstar and that was Lewis Hamilton himself [against Fernando Alonso at McLaren in 2007].
“So I don’t want to risk his career and I don’t want to risk him trying to do something to win against Lewis. That was the tipping point.”
Bottas has helped developed a beneficial dynamic within the team, something Wolff is conscious of not breaking.
“Whilst managing drivers you have to embrace the fact that they will pursue their dreams and their main target is going to be to win the Drivers’ Championship,” said Wolff.