Wolff: Ocon heading for gap year and more integration with Mercedes

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

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff reiterated his belief that Esteban Ocon will remain on the sidelines next season but will also contribute to Mercedes' performance in 2019.

The Force India driver has been left out in the cold following the takeover of the pink outfit by a consortium of investors led by Lawrence Stroll.

As a consequence of that deal, Williams' Lance Stroll is set to move to the Silverstone-based outfit for next season.

The 20-year-old's departure from Grove leaves a seat to fill at Williams alongside George Russell, which has put Ocon on its short list although Claire Williams has insisted that the drive will ideally require additional funding.

"I think we’ve just kind of settled in the situation where we might need to find the right seat for him in 2020 and have a gap year and integrate him a lot in the team, and he can contribute to the team performance," said Wolff.

"He and us, we’ve kind of got our head around it, even though it’s not perfect, unless a last-minute opportunity opens up at Williams. But it’s not in our hands. It’s for the team to decide."

In addition to Ocon, Williams is allegedly also considering incumbent Sergey Sirotkin, Robert Kubica and perhaps the well-funded Esteban Gutierrez.

"I think Claire [Williams, deputy team principal at Williams] will take a decision that is in the best interests of Williams commercially and driver-wise, and she hasn’t come to that point yet.

"It’s not going to happen any time soon."

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