With Daniil Kvyat returning, Toro Rosso now needs just one driver to find for 2019 – will Brendon Hartley retain his place? Is Pascal Wehrlein a serious candidate? Someone else entirely? Well, Helmet Marko admitted that he’d like to sign Esteban Ocon, but there’s a catch. He told Sky Sports:
“We have a seat. Mercedes doesn’t have a seat. If he’s [Ocon] free from all contracts, we could discuss it. I mean all contracts.”
This is one of the main issues as to why Ocon can’t find a seat. It’s not that he isn’t good enough or that he doesn’t bring enough money, it’s that the politics of the sport – and the fact that he’s a Mercedes driver – has narrowed down his options, even though it’s one of the silliest silly seasons on record.
Ocon does have options, the problem is that he doesn’t really have any say in things. Toro Rosso would potentially have him, but on its own terms – not Mercedes’. Another possible destination is Williams, but Williams apparently wants a significant discount on its power units in return, something Wolff isn’t keen – or able – to offer.
You can’t blame Wolff for wanting to hold on to the guy as not only has Mercedes invested a great deal into Ocon’s career, but clearly has him earmarked for a drive with the works team at some point in the future. It’s just a shame that we’re in a scenario where it’s seen as preferable for a talented driver to be out of the sport rather than racing for another team. F1 politics: don’t you just love it?