Mercedes to phase out Ocon’s role to protect 'sensitive' information
Esteban Ocon will bring a wealth of experience and information when he leaves his job as Mercedes’ reserve driver at the end of this season and heads to a race seat at Renault – but Team Principal Toto Wolff wants to make sure he doesn't take too much with him...
In his role as reserve, Ocon has been integrally involved in Mercedes 2019 title push, spending large amounts of time in the team's simulator, pushing development and set-up.
But now that the 21-year-old Frenchman is leaving for Renault to partner Daniel Ricciardo in 2020, he won’t be privy to as much sensitve information, as Wolff explained.
“Well, Esteban and I discussed… how long he should stay in his various roles, and I said: ‘The longer you stay, the more information you are taking with you.’
“And he replied, ‘Of course, I am going to take all this information with me!’”
The solution for Wolff?
He said: “[Ocon] will fade out of the meetings about the future, things that impact next year’s car or that we deem to be sensitive from the engineering or innovation point of view.
“But he’s still with us this season and does some very valuable work that we need in order to win this championship,” reiterated Wolff, as his team sit comfortably at the top of the constructors’ championship, while Lewis Hamilton is well on the way to a sixth drivers' title.
Ocon’s ties to Mercedes are clear, but Wolff moved to quash speculation that the Frenchman has a clause to return to the Silver Arrows in 2021 if the team so desired.
“There’s no clause,” he said. “He’s a fully-fledged Renault works driver for the next two years with certain options afterwards on both sides – no clause to come back in 2021.”
Fresh off their best result since 2007, perhaps Renault will be able to take the fight to Mercedes when the new era of F1 dawns in 2021. Right now, the team sit fifth in the standings ahead of Singapore.
Constructors' standings before Singapore
|3 Red Bull Racing||266|
|6 Toro Rosso||51|