Ocon ‘fully fledged Renault driver’, no Mercedes link

Both Mercedes and Renault have stressed that Esteban Ocon’s move to the Enstone team is not on a loan basis where the Silver Arrows can recall him.

After Valtteri Bottas sealed his spot with Mercedes for another season, Renault were able to quickly confirm Ocon as their second 2020 driver alongside Daniel Ricciardo.

Ocon has strong ties with Mercedes as they are also his management company, but there is a distinction in the terms of the deal as it does not include any clause over the next two years which would see the Frenchman back with the Silver Arrows.

“He is a Renault driver,” Abiteboul said in Friday’s FIA press conference at Spa, via Autosport.

“That is very clear. Mercedes will have absolutely no right on him for the duration of his contract.

“The small difference is that his management company happen to be a racing team and that is Mercedes.

“But it is a slightly different set-up from the set-up that we had with Carlos [Sainz Jr] last year. That was on a loan and not a contract with Red Bull, but he [Ocon] will be a fully fledged Renault driver.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff also used that very same line to clear up any confusion over where Ocon’s loyalties lie.

“Esteban is a fully fledged Renault driver,” Wolff confirmed to Sky Sports F1.

“He is there for the next couple of years. He needs to perform in a works environment under the leadership of Renault and their guys and benchmarked against Daniel Ricciardo.

“He’s not going to look at anyone else other than himself and Renault.”

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“Anyone throwing out hate towards Ocon or Rena…

“Anyone throwing out hate towards Ocon or Renault needs to give their head a wobble and realise that they are more qualified to choose who they want for their team than a load of armchair supporters whining on that Ocon is “average” or “Hulk has been wronged”. Its sport, it happens, get over it.”

Now Renault confirm Ocon for 2020

With Mercedes closing the door to Esteban Ocon for 2020, the Frenchman has instead signed with Renault, agreeing a multi-year contract.

Ocon, racing for Racing Point last season, was close to signing for Renault for 2019 only to lose out when Daniel Ricciardo made himself available.

That meant a year on the sidelines for the 22-year-old, who has spent 2019 learning in the Mercedes garage.

Always determined to return to the grid, Ocon was in line for a Mercedes race-seat but the Brackley squad instead opted to re-sign Valtteri Bottas.

Hours after that announcement, Renault confirmed Ocon for 2020.

“First and foremost, I am very proud to become a Renault driver,” said Ocon.

“I have grown up at Enstone, starting with Lotus in 2010 and then with Renault.

“I am very attached to this team and everyone who works there; they are the ones who opened the doors of top-level motorsport for me.

“Secondly, I am pleased that a team with big ambitions has entrusted me with the opportunity to once again demonstrate my skills at the highest level of F1.

“It is a responsibility I take very seriously.

“The confidence they have in me to help the progression of the team is a very positive pressure and I look forward to giving the best of myself.”

Ocon’s return to the F1 grid means Nico Hulkenberg is out of a job, although reports have linked the German racer to Romain Grosjean’s Haas seat.

That announcement is believed to be scheduled for the Italian GP.

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