Esteban Ocon

At the start of the 2016 season the two drivers I considered deserved to be on the grid most that weren't there were Stoffel Vandorne and Esteban Ocon. I'm very happy to say that both have now got their shot. At just twenty years of age Ocon certainly has the pedigree and the time to become one of the best in the sport and hopefully now has a shot in the Manor to show that potential. Ocon was the European F3 champion in 2014 and the GP3 champion in 2015 beating fairly strong opposition along the way to do so, most noticeably Max Verstappen. In both of his championship years he was face with opposition that was in better form than him and who had their machinery hooked up better than him, How did he do it? Well consistency was the name of the game.

In GP3 in 2015 Luca Ghiotto was in the form of his life and had his Trident car hooked up perfect but when the points were counted up it was Ocon that was champion. Despite being faced with such strong opposition Ocon kept himself in the running with an incredible ten 2nd places in a row (Both feature race and sprint race). He actually only scored one win all season (he did have two others that he was DQ'd for). Consistency like that is not be sniffed at. It was a similar story in F3 in 2015. By the time the now legendary Max Verstappen had got his car set up and his eye in Ocon had scored so many points he was uncatchable.

So does consistency mean caution? Well I'm sure Esteban would be the first to agree he is more Prost than Senna and most likely does not have the flare of Verstappen and Hamilton, however this does not mean he isn't feisty. His first corner collision with Verstappen in F3 certainly showed he isn't afraid to fight for his position and he was exceptionally good at fighting back through the field in the GP3 sprint races.

Ocon became part of the Mercedes young driver program last year after stupidly being dropped by Enstone (then Lotus) as other less worthy young drivers brought the team more money. This has meant he has been well supported in his bid to be in F1 and why he has landed his Manor drive. He is now being put up directly against Mercedes other young driver Pascal Wehrlein. From whats been said in the media there is not a lot of love lost between the two and I'm really looking forward to see how it pans out between them. Overall, in my view, I think Ocon is the better driver but we've seen many a good reputation not come to the top when it comes to F1. Wehrlein certainly has the head start with having done over half a season of races already and I fully expect him to be quicker in quali than Ocon for most of the rest of the season. I think it will probably make Wehrlein raise his game which can only be a good thing. My money in the long run though is on Ocon.

Anyways I'm sure we're all going to enjoy watching how Ocon gets on and I think we can all rejoice that a driver who actually has earned a place on the grid has been brought in rather than someone with a big ban balance.
 

RasputinLives

Leave me alone I'm on Smoko
Contributor
Toto Wolff has said today that they are considering dropping Ocon from their junior programme and it is currently 'detrimental to his development' - I'm assuming he means that if he's not a Merc junior other seats might become avaliable to him.

To be honest though with no funding and no Merc backing I'm not sure his chances would improve any. He'd need money for the Williams seat and Ocon and Verstappen have hated each other since F3 so I doubt they'll bring him into the Red Bull set up. I guess that leaves the Haas seat avaliable but it's pretty late to start that negotiation.
 

F1Brits_90

Champion Elect
Yes i worry for ocon, for the reasons you state in this current state of F1. He wouldn't be the 1st really talented driver to hit a glass ceiling in recent yrs, usually end up in Formula E likes of Bird, Rowland, Rosenquist, Dillmann

because majority of the grid are struggling for money so are more bothered by the size of backing than the size of the talent
 

Il_leone

Champion Elect
Maybe Mercedes should have been bold enough to drop Bottas which would have been the solution to get themselves out of this conundrum. They've got 3 young drivers to sort out an F1 career
- one no one wants because he is a :censored: wherever he has been -Wehrlein despite being billed as Germany's new hope
,-one who everyone likes and has been approached in the past but Mercedes said no - Ocon and now finds himself out of a seat
- one who is ready to step up and has done everything asked of him in Russell

Ocon - it depends how much Mercedes want to assist Force India to get him that seat over Perez who will announce soon where he goes

- If Haas is an option that is a a surprise but alongside Magnussen there will be fireworks

Toto has suggested running 3rd cars but seriously only the front 3 teams and maybe Mclaren or Renault would run them and there is always an issue that one of your drivers become the mobile chicane
 

RasputinLives

Leave me alone I'm on Smoko
Contributor
Just a thought. Ocon never raced F2. If he misses out on a seat would it be wise to step down a formula and walk it to the title? At least he'd be right there in the pit lane in front of the team bosses every week.
 

F1Brits_90

Champion Elect
F2 is more about talent than cars. Look at ART russell leading championship but teammate aitken is 150pts behind. Its unrealistic but possible grosjean did it after 2009 & better than 12months sabbatical
 

Il_leone

Champion Elect
Depends if Mercedes want to keep him in the family .. he 'll be pushed to Formula E alongside Wehrlein which would probably be a shoot out for an F1 seat

Christian Horner has said Toro Rosso will not sign Ocon due to his Mercedes connections and just to stick a boot into them by reminding them they got have promoted him

Toro Rosso won’t sign Ocon, says Horner

Red Bull will probably have Dan Ticktum in 2020 in one of the cars so interesting to see who is the stop gap

Now no one has said what if Ocon severs his ties with Mercedes. The only other seat he has been mentioned with is Haas again would Ferrari be happy although Gene Haas has stated they are not pressured to place Ferrari backed drivers
 

Il_leone

Champion Elect
Sorry jumped a season early which brings back to what Toto said that Ocon maybe released to help find an F1 drive, now would Renault belatedly think of putting him as 3rd driver with a contract for 2020 ?

They've twice tried to sign him already so why not do what Alonso did back in 2002 sit out the season but had a contract with Renault for 2003?
In that case drive for Nissan Dams team in Formula E then for 18-19 ??

You have reminded me that the only one driver who competed in F1 had gone back to F2(GP2) to win the championship but it did not help securing a future F1 career.

Giorgio Pantano drove for Jordan in 2004 BUT he did not complete the season because he could not bring in anymore money well to be fair he bought in quite a bit so to fund Heidfeld's wages. He won GP2 in 2008 but could not get a drive and had nowhere to go .

Ocon - two teams he could drive for with French connections in F2 - ART who he drove for DTM for Merc in 2016 to get him ready for F1 or DAMS who will be switching from Renault to Nissan in Formula E.

The risk Ocon takes is both are championship teams so anything less than taking the title might affect his credibility
 
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RasputinLives

Leave me alone I'm on Smoko
Contributor
Well.....I'm sure the answer in the media will be because Alonso is amazing and awesome because he has a great PR team who are legally oblige to make sure an article saying that is published at least once a month.

However, there is a long history of Fernando having young strong team mates who suddenly find themselves adrift and don't understand it (with one exception of course). I am very cynical about this.
 

F1Brits_90

Champion Elect
could it be that he is quite good & ocon has been poor i did post this before the Austrian Gp

are we allowed to praise Alonso yet. as last 3 races have been very good 6th 8th & 9th. compared with Ocon DNF, 14th & 14th. he supposed to be the old hand & yet he's settled in now. is comfortably beating the once highly rated ocon. who im surprised got a 3 yr contract as he's performed havent wowed the last 18 months
 
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