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Abiteboul: Ocon is a a "fully-fledged" Renault driver

NEWS STORY
31/08/2019

Should Lewis Hamilton decide to quit at season end, feeling that six titles is enough, or should Valtteri Bottas experience a second half of the season similar to 2018, Mercedes will not be able to call on the services of Esteban Ocon in 2020 or even 2021, for the Frenchman, according to Renault boss, Cyril Abiteboul, is now a "fully-fledged" member of the French team.

"He's a Renault driver, that's very clear," Abiteboul told reporters. "Mercedes will have absolutely no right on him for the duration of his contract."

However...

"A small difference is that his management company happens to be a racing team, and that's Mercedes," he added. "But it's a slightly different set-up from the set-up we had with Carlos (Sainz). last year, where that was on loan and not under contract with Red Bull, but he will be a fully-fledged Renault driver."

Asked about the decision to drop Nico Hulkenberg after four seasons, he said: "When you make a decision like that, you don't just look at pure pace, you also need to look at the collective dynamic. And there is a dynamic we need to restart, reset into the team.

"Also, probably, we need to project ourselves into the medium to long-term future. So not just 2020 but also 2021, and what's happening to his team-mate and so on and so forth.

"So that's all of that but in particular the collective dynamic and what Esteban can probably bring to the team. He's probably starving for racing, being super-happy to come back into racing, by nature, by construction because also he's been out of a seat for a year.

"It's all of these elements that we factored into the equation. Plus, also it's important to say that we have - not a certainty because you can't be certain of anything - but very high chances that Nico will be able to continue his racing career. So, just like it counted for us with Carlos last year, it's also counted for us this year with Nico."

Ahead of the summer break, Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff admitted that the choice of teammate to Hamilton in 2020 was a straight choice between Ocon and Bottas. However, the Austrian made it clear that should his team opt to stick with the Finn - Hamilton known to be keen on maintaining the status quo - finding a berth for Ocon would be a priority.

On Thursday, Mercedes confirmed that it was retaining Bottas, the Finn eventually confirming that he had been informed several days earlier.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Paul C, 04/09/2019 4:03

"And where does Ocon drive if Renault gives up after 2020."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by rosscogeo, 31/08/2019 10:32

"So Hamilton wins 2 more titles bringing him to 8 then ocon replaces Hamilton and bottas becomes ocons number 2 or maybe Russell becomes ocons number 2"

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3. Posted by *TestaRossa*, 31/08/2019 10:22

"Abiteboul must get a price for the best hollow talking of the last 4 years. "

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