Mercedes ties make Ocon a no go for Toro Rosso

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Red Bull's Christian Horner says Esteban Ocon cannot be considered for a seat at Toro Rosso because of his ties with Mercedes.

The highly-rated French driver is facing an uncertain future in F1 because of a scarcity of available seats and his links to Mercedes.

Ocon's troubles began when his current team Force India was taken over by a Lawrence Stroll-led consortium of investors, a state of affairs that guarantees the arrival sooner rather than later of the billionaire's son Lance Stroll, while Sergio Perez is rumored to have already sealed a deal with the pink outfit for 2019.

The 21-year-old was ruled out of a seat at McLaren because of his Mercedes ties, and Red Bull has just applied the same logic according to Christian Horner.

"For what is relatively little investment by Mercedes it’s been to their merit that they’ve helped these guys to get into F1," Horner told

"But now it seems to be almost an anchor being a Mercedes driver. Being on a recall mechanism isn’t attractive to a vast majority of teams.

"The crazy situation is you’ve got a driver like Ocon who might end up without a seat next year. If he was to be contractually free he’d be an obvious candidate for Toro Rosso.

"But Red Bull aren’t going to invest in a Mercedes driver, understandably. And I wouldn’t expect the same to happen the other way round."

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitted that Ocon's situation had been complicated by his contractual ties to the German manufacturer.

However, the Austrian also said he would consider releasing the 21-year-old from Mercedes' driver programme if it would help him secure a seat in F1 next year.

In hindsight, Horner believes Mercedes should have taken a chance on its young charger and promoted Ocon to a race seat with the Silver Arrows squad, just as Red Bull did in the past with Max Daniel Ricciardo and Verstappen.

"It’s very easy to go with something known," he said.

"And there’s far more perceived risk in taking an unknown quantity or a junior, and I think we’ve demonstrated on numerous occasions that it pays off.

"We’ve had a very successful junior programme, and Red Bull has a junior team, and has invested in that.

"It’s paid dividends with Seb, Daniel and Max, and we’ll see with Pierre Gasly."

For now, Ocon's fate remains in Mercedes' hands, but the pink panther is also doing his best out on the race track to showcase his talent for all the teams on the grid.

"If you do a strong job in Formula 1, the teams, they can't skip you, they need to have you. So, that's what I'm trying to do," he said in Belgium.

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