Force India 'would consider' releasing Ocon

Esteban Ocon (FRA) Sahara Force India F1 Team.
© XPB 

Force India's chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer says the team would consider releasing Esteban Ocon - providing the price was right.

The French driver has been linked to a move to Renault in 2019, if that team can't manage to retain Carlos Sainz's services for another season.

“We try not to disclose the details of our driver contracts," Szafnauer told when asked if they would give up their option to retain Ocon. "It’s safe to say that we would have to release him.

“If circumstances made it the best thing for us to do, we’d have to look at it," he added. "We like Esteban and he’s done a great job for us.

"At the end of the day, it’s our call. If Renault want to pay a bunch of money, I’ll consider it!”

Up to now Ocon has been backed by Mercedes, so a jump to the rival Renault camp would be a major moment in his career.

Even Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was unsure how things would go: “We don’t know. We can’t comment. It’s tricky, the situation," he admitted.

Szafnauer said that the team had also made no firm decision about whether or not to retain Sergio Perez for another season.

“It’s too early. It’s genuinely all wide open," he insisted. "The time frame is to start speaking with some of his backers and supporters on what they want to do next year.

"It’s usually around the Mexican Grand Prix that we face that, so it’s way premature for Checo."

The future of the whole team is also up in the air, with rumours swirling that a prospective new buyer has emerged for the financially struggling outfit.

Reports in the German press have linked Canadian businessman Lawrence Stroll to a possible buy-out of the team. That might result in his son Lance moving from Williams to take one of the seats at Force India.

“We need a seat to be able to do that," Szafnauer said when asked about the prospect of Stroll joining the team in 2019.

"If I were looking for a drive, I’d consider Force India just because of our performance," he added.

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