Esteban Ocon has been given a potential lifeline in his battle to retain an F1 driver’s seat next year, however, it will not be plain sailing for the Frenchman to sort out his future.
Red Bull boss, Helmut Marko has said that he would consider signing Ocon for the junior Red Bull outfit, Toro Rosso, but only if he cuts all ties with Mercedes.
Ocon, a junior Mercedes driver currently with Force India, is looking like he is going to be replaced by Lance Stroll, where his father bought a controlling stake in the team in August.
This leaves Ocon with an uncertain future, with Force India only likely to offer him a reserve driver’s slot as things stand.
Marko, the overall boss of Red Bull and the man who will have the final say on the remaining driver slot at their junior team Toro Rosso, has made it clear Ocon will have to cut ties with Mercedes if he would like to be considered for a spot with them.
"We have a seat. Mercedes doesn't have a seat," Marko said, per ESPN.
"If he's free from all contracts, we could discuss it. I mean all contracts."
When pressed again on what would happen have to happen in order for the deal to go through, Marko replied: "Free of all contracts, yeah."
It doesn’t appear though that Mercedes want to let go of their French prodigy, with Toto Wolff being a big admirer. He sees Ocon as future world champion and has said that he would not let him leave ‘in a million years.’
All of this points to difficult few months ahead for Ocon.
Most of the teams of the grid have either finalised their drivers for 2019 or have adopted a similar stance as Red Bull.
So unless Ocon is prepared to cut all ties to the team who have guided his progress through the sport to date, he will have to face a year on the sidelines.
Time is certainly running out for him to secure a spot on the grid for next year.News Now - Sport News