Williams decision will determine Ocon 2019 plans – Wolff
Will Esteban Ocon line up on the Formula 1 grid next year? It’s been a hot topic ever since Force India were bought by a consortium led by Lance Stroll's father Lawrence earlier this year, and the Frenchman is now running out of 2019 options. In fact, Toto Wolff, the man in charge of Ocon’s career, has revealed that Williams is now his only possible destination but he says that move is ‘not in our hands’…
A combination of events – namely the summer takeover of Force India, Daniel Ricciardo’s switch to Renault and McLaren deciding to bring in Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris next year – haven’t worked in Ocon’s favour, and there’s the very likely possibility that he could find himself without a seat for next season.
His current team mate Sergio Perez has recently signed a new deal with Force India, and current Williams driver Stroll seems nailed on to take Ocon’s seat, leaving the Mercedes-affiliated driver with an uncertain future.
Wolff has previously stated that Ocon may have to take a sabbatical year before returning to F1 in 2020, and it seems they’re just waiting on Williams’ decision before they can pencil in the driver’s 2019 plans.
“No [update] - I think we’ve just kind of settled in the situation where we might need to find the right seat for him in 2020 and have a gap year and integrate him a lot in the team, and he can contribute to the team performance,” said Wolff, when asked for an update on Ocon's future by Formula1.com.
“He and us, we’ve kind of got our head around it, even though it’s not perfect, unless a last-minute opportunity opens up at Williams. But it’s not in our hands. It’s for the team to decide.”
Wolff added that the decision ultimately lies with Williams' Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams, who has so far remained tight-lipped on who will join George Russell, the Mercedes junior driver, at the Grove squad next season.
“I think Claire will take a decision that is in the best interests of Williams commercially and driver-wise, and she hasn’t come to that point yet. It’s not going to happen any time soon,” Wolff added.
An uncertain future means Ocon will want to finish the current season with Force India on a high. With two Grands Prix remaining, the Frenchman sits 11th in the drivers' standings, one point behind McLaren’s Fernando Alonso in tenth.