Ocon: Wolff hits out at hidden agendas


While the likes of McLaren and Red Bull claim that their lack of interest in Esteban Ocon is mainly due to his close ties with Mercedes, an almost certain move to Renault was thwarted when Daniel Ricciardo opted to join the French team.

As it becomes increasingly difficult to see where the talented youngster might go next year, the only realistic option being Mercedes and even then it would surely cost Mercedes dear, Toto Wolff has hit out.

"What's been going on this year in July and in August was just unbelievable," he told Sky Sports. "There was so much politics in the background, hidden agendas and lies.

"In July, he had two offers on the table with contracts, and it was just a matter of choosing which was the right one. But he has ended up not having any anymore because people simply don't have the balls to stick to what they say.

"We have to sort it out," he insisted. "Esteban is strong, he's been through difficult moments in his career. We'll fix this one as well.

"Not all of the good kids are going to end up in cars, and probably Esteban will be one of them," he added. "But we'll look after him. He's one of the future stars. I'm 100 percent sure of that."

When it was suggested that Ocon's clear links to Mercedes are the problem, the Austrian admitted: "Yeah, it could be.

"But if someone else out there feels that way and it compromises their own performance as a team not taking the best drivers, it's their problem and not ours," he added.

"But we can see that momentum and it's fine. I don't want to rely on anybody else, and neither should the young drivers that have power and speed to be relying on anybody else. I think talent is eventually going to find a way to the good cars, and Esteban is going to go."

Told of Wolff's comments, Christian Horner, whose driver programme at Red Bull, like Mercedes, has also brought plenty of talent to F1, had a unique solution.

"We've invested in the team," he told Sky Sports. "If Toto writes a cheque I'm sure he can get him a seat in Williams.

"There's three super talented kids, certainly two very strong ones I think," he continued, "and Ocon would be great to see in Formula 1 and George Russell. But Toto might have to cut them free at the end of the day because it's a shame to see those guys not get a Formula One seat, just because of who they're contracted to."

The Briton pointed to the way Red Bull had promoted drivers from within, rather than recruiting from elsewhere.

"It's the only real way," he said. "We've made that commitment, we've made that investment, and it paid evidence with Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly coming through.

"I think the problem that Toto's got at the moment is that he's got talented drivers but there isn't a seat. That's going to be a real problem for those guys going into next year."

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Published: 14/09/2018
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